Essay PreviewMore ↓
Antigone - Importance of gender in the opening scene
In looking at the first few exchanges between Ismene and Antigone by Sophocles, it is greatly apparent that there are plenty of social issues surrounding women from ancient Greece. In looking at the contextual background of the playwright, the representation of the women within the play and at the imagined response of a contemporary and ancient audience; we can see that this play raises many gender and socially related issues.
Looking briefly at the contextual element to the play in terms of the playwright, it is worth considering that Sophocles himself was a political writer. He was elected by lot to become one of nine generals to command during an ancient skirmish. This took place the same year he wrote the play 'Antigone'. His fame for writing this play propelled him into fame among his peers and fellow citizens.
Even within the play itself we can see that there is a political effort. This comes directly from the protagonist King Creon. He wants to rule fairly but firmly. His power as, not only a King, but as a human being come into focus to an audience as he must decided whether or not to go against his heart by killing his niece for disobeying a law he laid down. This is also a law he could quite simply change, but he doesn't. This would directly give any audience the notion that the ideal ruler is someone who can put the matters of their heart to one side and put the greater good of the people first.
When we meet the characters in the first scene, it is important to note what they actually say about each other and their knowledge of their own social status. When we meet Antigone, she is the first character to speak. The audience later learns that she is the antagonist of the play as she rebels against the protagonist, Creon. It is also worth noting that there is a similarity between the name of the heroine Antigone and the term antagonist. This gives the audience, especially of ancient Greece the feeling that Antigone has been fated to be the antagonist and to die for it in a tragic manner. Her sister Ismene who is the second character the audience will meet initially describes Antigone. "You seem so dark and grim" (25) says Ismene of her sister.
How to Cite this Page
"Importance of Gender in Sophocles' Antigone." 123HelpMe.com. 23 Sep 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- In many literary works throughout the ages it is not uncommon to find characters that are representative of their time and place. Sophocles, in his play Antigone tries to portray just that in his characters Ismene and Antigone. However, the characters portray these ancient values in starkly different ways. While Antigone believes in divine rule above all, her sister subscribes to the rule of men – particularly Creon her king. Through the use of the characters Ismene and Antigone as foils, Sophocles conveys the conflict that emerges between the rule of man and divine rule.... [tags: Oedipus, Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone]
1519 words (4.3 pages)
- A woman who rebelled against a distinctively patriarchal, male-dominated Greek society. A woman who defied the orders of the King to follow her heart. A woman who acted in accordance with her sense of right and wrong. A woman with great reverence for relationships and an even greater allegiance towards family values. Such a woman deserves applause. A rebel. A legend. An example. A woman. Antigone. Sophocles’ Antigone has as its backdrop a very rigid and conservative Greek society and Greek culture when it was certainly against the norm of a typical ancient Greek woman to rebel against a male authority.... [tags: Antigone, Sophocles, feminism]
2093 words (6 pages)
- The tragic plays have been an important part of the Greek history and women had played an important roles in the plays to demonstrate about Greek society. A tragedy is a drama that represents events that lead to destruction, accident, death, or natural calamity. The character of a tragic dramas have to be dead or shown the misfortune that leads to the downfall of the main character. There are many famous playwrights that have written tragedies, one of the name is Sophocles. Sophocles is one of the popular Greek tragedy playwrights that had written many plays in Greek literature.... [tags: Sophocles, Tragedy, Ancient Greece, Family]
1625 words (4.6 pages)
- Antigone, a tragedy written by Sophocles portrays female roles in society in distinctive matters from a king’s perspective to the overall play. In ancient Greece woman were viewed as submissive , whereas men were dominant and woman were looked upon as inept given fewer rights almost the same ones as a slave. When Creon speaks to his son exemplifying “it would be bad enough to yield to a man, but he would never yield to a woman” he is not only justifying a woman’s place in society as irrational illustrating them as incompetent , but the play gives another view of women by alluding to polar opposite characteristics viewed in Antigone and Ismene.... [tags: slave, society, perseverance]
988 words (2.8 pages)
- I found Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and Antigone two captivating and intriguing plays. I chose to examine these plays in depth because I am drawn to Sophocles’ poetic style, particularly the sharp imagery, dramatic prose, and rhythmic flow his work achieves. Although Sophocles wrote both plays as poems, the English translator of Oedipus the King, Bernard M. W. Knox, decided to adapt the text as an “acting version” for the stage, as stated in the translator’s preface. He also crafts sympathetic characters whose journeys pose deep philosophical questions for the reader to contemplate and analyze.... [tags: irony, culture, morals]
1881 words (5.4 pages)
- Susan B. Anthony once said, “The true republic: men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less.” In the plays Antigone, by Sophocles, and A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen, strong women overcome restrictions and limitations placed upon them by their society and gender. In Antigone, Antigone chooses to defy Creon, her ruler, uncle, and a male authority figure, to support what she believes is right, which is burying her brother and respecting the gods. Though it was forbidden for her brother to be buried because of Creon’s decree, she resists, and in doing so, feels empowered and discovers what a strong woman she truly is.... [tags: literary Analysis, Sophocles]
1965 words (5.6 pages)
- As the tragedy concludes, the chorus issues its final words: "Pray for no more at all. For what is destined for us, men mortal, there is no escape," demonstrating how justice remains impartial to the prejudice of men; those who make imprudent judgments will ultimately suffer from the consequences of their actions. In Sophocles' Antigone, these prejudices notably surface in the form of paternalism as demonstrated through Creon's government, highlighting the importance of gender roles throughout the play.... [tags: Theatre]
1416 words (4 pages)
- Antigone2 Antigone herself represents the highest ideals of human life -- courage and respect for the gods. In the mythical story "Antigone", Antigone first demonstrates feminist logic when she chooses to challenge a powerful male establishment. This establishment is personified by her uncle Creon, who is newly crowned as the King of Thebes, and it is usually challenged by whole city-state. She believed that the law of the gods (to give proper burial rights to every dead body) was more important than the law of the King.... [tags: essays papers]
864 words (2.5 pages)
- "I would not count any enemy of my country as a friend." In the play Antigone, written by Sophocles, Antigone finds herself torn apart between divine law and state law. The play opens up at the end of a war between Eteocles and Polyneices, sons of Oedipus and brothers of Antigone and Ismene. These brothers, fighting for control of Thebes, kill each other, making Creon king of Thebes. Creon, as king, gives an important speech to the citizens of Thebes, announcing that Eteocles, who defended Thebes, will receive a proper burial, unlike his brother Polyneices, who brought a foreign army against Thebes.... [tags: Antigone Sophocles Greek Play]
863 words (2.5 pages)
- Being a part of a family forces one to have responsibilities and duties that are needed to be fulfilled. In Sophocles’ Greek tragedy, Antigone, Antigone has the responsibility of being loyal to her brother, Polynices. Her intuition and strong will discourages her from listening to the power of the state and to disobey some of her family to respect another part of her family. Her devotion leads to the destruction of Creon and herself, but her role as a part of her family does not stand in her determination to do what she believes to be right.... [tags: Sophocles Antigone Greek Tragedy]
1342 words (3.8 pages)
- moralant Divine Law vs. Human Law in Sophocles' Antigone
- A Comparison of the Divided Self in Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein
- Free Essay on Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter - Three Scaffold Scenes
- Essay on Escape in A Rose For Emily and Yellow Wallpaper
- Linda Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
- College Admissions Essay: Celebrating Diversity
In meeting Ismene, we are introduced to a wiser woman in terms of her knowing where she stands socially and knowing the consequences of rebellious actions. Ismene serves a tool of the play. She helps the antagonist to become more resolute about her actions. This gives Ismene the role of messenger of the play, as in keeping with Greek theatrical traditions. Ismene has suffered just as much as Antigone has done "no joy or pain has come my way" (16). Yet although she concedes that the sisters "were robbed of our two brothers" (17), she still accepts the will of the King "I must obey the ones who stand in power".
Ultimately, what is translated to an audience is that the woman who resisted the Kings law dies and the woman who doesn't resist lives on. This would give a type of warning to an ancient Greek audience, but to a modern audience, it would instill a feeling that Antigone had become a martyr; dying for what she believed in.
The representation of women is somewhat lost though by how the play came into existence. We should not forget that this pathos inducing play showing the emotional struggles of two women, especially Antigone, is written by a man. It is also essential to remember that male actors dressed up as women performed this play. There literally is not female input into this play at all and dramatically has an impact on the audience when they take into consideration this fact. There is a lot of room, therefore, for error in the representation of women in general from ancient Greece and the reader and audience member is a lost as to how a Greek woman, royal or not, would have acted. We can now only ask ourselves how would we react to this as an enlightened, contemporary society.
The answer must be that we still see the tragic element to the play. This play set out to be a tragedy in ancient Greece and when we see that the death of Antigone as the pivot back then, we must see the untimely death of a young woman tragic too. Thus we find we are of a common understanding with our ancient Greek counterparts.
Ultimately, this first few minutes of the play, tell us a great deal about not only the two characters involved, but also about the society they lived in. We can merely reflect on the social changes between our culture and theirs, yet the implications that we, the audience receive about women are quite prominent not only sociably for them, but for us now. It also quite alarming that women had no input to this play or any other and only the experience of the playwright, actor and mask-maker survive to this day to form our knowledge.