Gender Roles in "Antigone"

Topics: Oedipus, Ancient Greece, Sophocles Pages: 2 (521 words) Published: December 10, 2012
Megan Bright
Palenchar, Hour 2
November 8, 2009

Sophocles was Grecian dramatist who liked to argue that women were more capable and strong than the Greek society believed them to be. In ancient Greece, women had about as many rights as the slaves. For her entire life, a woman would live under the control of her father, husband, or other male relative. Women did not leave the household but instead spent all day taking care of it. Women with wealth didn’t work and supervised the slaves. The poorer a woman was, the more freedom she had to go outside, ironically. A low-class woman could be seen going to the market or working with her husband, and an even poorer woman could be seen going to the market alone. So naturally, in Sophocles’ play, “Antigone,” the main character is a clear example of a courageous, intelligent high-class woman defying her culture’s limits. She didn’t just go against the State, but her superior male relative as well. This in turn intimidates and infuriates the king. The gender roles are very important because they create tension in the story, which helps build up to the climax. It also affects the decisions of some characters because they want to defend their pride.

Right from the prologue, Antigone expresses her ambitions of breaking Creon’s law in order to honor her dead brother, Polyneices. “Creon is not strong enough to stand in my way” (774). She argues with her sister Ismene, a character opposite in personality who portrays an ideal woman in ancient Greek times- obedient, fearful, and overall inferior.

It would be so outrageous for a woman to dare break the law that it never occurs to Creon as a possibility. This is proven when Creon finds out that someone buried Polyneices and assumes it was a man who made the offense. Sophocles clearly depicts that fact twice, the first time on page 779 when Creon asks, “And the man who dared do this?” and again on page 780 when he declares, “…unless you bring me the man, / You will get...
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