Feminism in Sophocles’ Play Antigone

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Women were still treated as inferiors in the male-dominated civilization of Early Athens. However, Throughout Antigone, there are many references to feminism including Antigone and Ismene’s relationship, Creon’s anti-feminist remarks, and Antigone’s fearless and valiant assertiveness. In the opening of Antigone, it is revealed that Antigone and Ismene have different ideas when it comes to being women in a patriarchal civilization. Ismene says “We must remember that we two are women, so not to fight with men; and that since we are subject to stronger power” (Sophocles 665). This quote shows that Ismene thinks that women are lesser to men and must follow their orders.

Sophocles depicts Creon as a bigot leader with a small belief for women and this hints to Creon’s demise. When Creon says “They must be women now. Now more free running.” (Sophocles 668), we now know that he believes women must be controlled by men and if they get loose, the town of Thebes would live in disarray. Creon also says, “I am no man and she the man instead” (Sophocles 58). This quote shows how Creon considers men are higher to women. Creon also says, “I won’t be called weaker than womankind.” (Sophocles 70). This shows that Creon thinks that women as a whole are weak human beings. Creon is also a bigot leader because he says, “Weaker than a woman!” (Sophocles 49). This shows that he thinks women are not stronger or more mentally capable than men. Creon also says: “not let myself be beaten by a woman. Better, if it must happen, that a man should overset me” (Sophocles 46). Creon also says, “The strongest iron, hardened in the fire, most often ends in scraps and shatterings” (Sophocles 38). This means the strongest woman would ultimately surrender to men and lose everything.

Throughout Antigone, Sophocles presents characters that support feminism, but he also chastises those who consider women are subordinate to men. For instance, Creon thinks women should obey men and he was quickly disciplined for his misogynistic arrogance. Creon says, “May death come quick, bringing my final day!”. This shows his punishment for his approach towards women and how he feels after his son and wife are killed. Ismene is also chastised because of Antigone’s actions even though she believed men were the stronger sex. As a result, Creon says “he will execute them” (Sophocles 43). Ismene is also punished since she thinks she “shares the blame” and she thought of herself as “an accessory” (Sophocles 45).

Throughout Antigone, there was always a battle among man (Creon) and woman (Antigone). With Creon, it’s all about power and what he defines as law. He also cares about keeping the status the men are superior to women. This is shown when he says, “No woman rules me while I live.” (Sophocles 62). With Antigone, it is all about the “unrecorded laws” that were issued by the gods and what is morally correct. She is also relentless and is willing to die for her cause. This is shown when she says, “For me, the doer, death is best.” (Sophocles 37). It is also shown when she says, “And so, when strength runs out, I shall give over. (Sophocles 39). Countless individuals would describe a feminist as an individual who advocates for women’s privileges, but my conviction is that Antigone goes past this classification. When Antigone utters, “And if you think my acts are foolishness the foolishness may be in a fool’s eye.” (Sophocles 665), it shows her feminist defiance toward Creon by calling him a fool. It also shows that Antigone has no admiration for Creon as a ruler and as a man. Antigone also says, “I have dared the crime of piety” (Sophocles 37). This quote may not represent feminism, but it does show a woman being courageous to a man. Lastly, Antigone says “It is no shame to serve blood relatives” (Sophocles 60). This displays her feminist rebellion to entomb her brother even though it is forbidden.


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