Male Reactions to Female Power in Antigone Essay

Male Reactions to Female Power in Antigone Essay

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Western society has a long history of subjugating women to men. Some cite the idea that women are somehow weaker or inferior to men as a reason for the existence of this social dynamic. In Sophocles's Antigone and, Dürrenmatt's The Visit, however, the female leads show great strength and are even able to threaten the male leads with their power. Creon and Alfred Ill's disdainful and oppressive treatment of women stems not from the supposed inferiority of women, but from the theme that man is afraid to lose control. This theme is developed through particular events in the plot: the men begin in positions of power, which are then threatened by the women. Their amateur reactions to the powerful women cause them to lose more control until in the end, they have nothing. Their redemption comes not through defeating the women, but through accepting responsibility for their own actions.
To begin with, Creon and Ill have power socially and politically. Creon is the King of Thebes and Ill is the “most popular personality” (Dürrenmatt 15) of Guellen. Sophocles and Dürrenmatt set the stage by implying that their current situation will last–– “the gods” (Sophocles 170) themselves appoint Creon as king and the people of Guellen unanimously “[agree] to nominate” (Dürrenmatt 15) Ill as the mayor's successor. Furthermore, foreshadowing of their actions towards Antigone and Claire appears as approval. The elders of Thebes assure Creon that he has power over the “living and the dead” (Sophocles 172), justifying his actions towards Polyneices's body and empowering his punishment of Antigone. Ill, on the other hand, represents Guellen's last chance for survival. “All depends” (Dürrenmatt 14) on Ill's ability to capitalize on his and Claire's ...


... middle of paper ...


...no reason to continue mistreating Antigone and Claire.
A series of events catalyzed by powerful women and ending with a tragic loss for the male leads of The Visit and Antigone reveals a reason for the mistreatment of women in western society. Dürrenmatt and Sophocles show that the oppression of women stems from man's fear of losing control. By identifying this fear, the authors underscore the importance of treating women as equals, as the decision of the male leads to blame the women rather than to accept responsibility for their actions is what causes their downfall.


Works Cited

Dürrenmatt, Friedrich. The Visit: a Tragi-comedy. Trans. Patrick Bowles. New
York: Grove, 1982.

Sophocles. The Oedipus Plays of Sophocles; Oedipus the King, Oedipus at
Colonus, Antigone. Trans. Paul Roche. New York: New American Library,
1958.

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