Antigone Research Paper
When U2’s Bono sings “women of the future hold the big revelations” (Bono “Get On Your Boots”), he is referencing the rise of women’s roles in Africa in the twenty-first century. Yet, this phrase can also apply to women in other time periods such as in ancient Greece seen in the Sophocles’ play entitled Antigone. In Antigone, the protagonist, Antigone, is a daughter of the house of Lauis, which is a noble, ruling family that has been through much affliction from deaths in the family. When a law forbids Antigone to honor her traitorous (to the state) brother in a proper burial, Antigone disobeys it to honor the gods’ instructions.
This act eventually leads to the deaths of Antigone and other main characters. For the twenty-first century reader, it is important to understand how gender roles and relationships vary from time period to time period in order to fully appreciate the equal status of women in today’s society. The authors of the feminist play, Antigone, portrays the society’s perspective of women as vindictive people, the limitations of women, and the growing strong-willed quality of some women that start to rise in the respective time period. In Antigone, society generally views women as cruel people.
For example, Creon, in Antigone, exemplifies the general view of society towards women in a monologue to his son, Haemon. Creon speaks of how useless women are in his eyes: “the man who rears a brood of useless children…nothing but trouble for himself, and mockery from his enemies laughing in his face” (Sophocles, 766). When Creon, who represents the societal view towards women, describes “useless children,” he is referencing daughters. Creon believes that women are useless because he has been taught in his society and time period that women are not innately designed to rule and do not have significant, positive effects on society.
Additionally, Creon believes that women or daughters bring trouble to men because he has been taught that women are wicked by nature. Again, in the play Antigone, Creon describes the malevolence of women, especially when he talks about Antigone. Creon metaphorically describes women in his tirade about Antigone: “Anarchy-show me a greater crime…she destroys cities…breaks the ranks of spearmen…never let some woman triumph over us…never be rated inferior to a woman, never” (Sophocles, 754).
When Creon references “anarchy” and replaces it with the word “she” later in his speech, Creon believes that women are as lawless and chaotic as the concept of anarchy. Also, Creon has the ideal that women should be inferiors to men when he says “never let some woman triumph over us” (Sophocles, 767). Additionally, Creon believes that women try to become superior over men (another way that women are shown as malicious people) when he describes a woman, or anarchy, breaking the military status or military ranking of spearmen.
In Antigone, the societal view of women in the play, represented through Creon, respectively, is that women are malevolent people. This view persists through the play. During the time periods in Antigone, women have many limitations that stem from society and the state. In Antigone, Antigone, the main character, is limited by society when she attempts to voice her opinion. After Antigone passionately explains why she broke Creon’s law, the leader of the chorus remarks on Antigone’s behavior: “… she hasn’t learned to bend adversity” (Sophocles, 750).
As said by Ismene, Antigone’s sister, women are “not born to contend with men” (Sophocles, 758). In ancient Greece, women are believed to be subordinates to men. This perception possibly could have developed from the sight of the fragile physique of women that illustrates women’s physical weakness compared to men’s strong frames. During Antigone’s time, many laws and beliefs are set that greatly restrict women’s roles in society and the state. Antigone, the protagonist, possesses the character of a strong-willed human, unlike most of the women of their respective times.
In Antigone, Antigone demonstrates a very strong-willed personality throughout the entire play. When Creon questions Antigone to discover if Antigone did commit the crime of burying her brother, Antigone stands firm in her decision: “Nor did I think your edict had such force that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods, the great unwritten, unshakable traditions… These laws-I was not about to break them, not out of fear of some man’s wounded pride… die I must… to meet this doom of yours is precious little pain” (Sophocles, 750).
Antigone strongly believes that she is committing to the right decision of breaking the state’s law as seen in her insult of Creon. Antigone fiercely believes that if she disobeys the gods, she will have worse retribution than disobeying the state, or Creon. Even as Antigone’s predicament continues, Antigone does not shy away from the consequences of her actions. Ismene, Antigone’s sister, attempts to take part of the blame for committing the crime, yet Antigone only allows herself to take the blame: “You chose to live.
I chose to die… Live your life. I gave myself to death, long ago, so I might serve the dead” (Sophocles, 753). In her statement, Antigone shows that she is determined to follow through with her actions even if it leads to her death. Even though this most likely shows that Antigone is determined in her decision, this statement could also allude to Antigone’s fear of the gods’ punishment, not her proud determination, if she does not follow through with her decision. Antigone greatly showcases women because the protagonist is a woman.
With a feminist approach to literature, the 21st century reader is shown how women’s roles in Ancient Greece differ from today. Their society included views that women are cruel humans, limitations to women from the state and society, and strong-willed women that are not usually publicized. Additionally, the limitations of women and the perception that women are vindictive affect women by leading some women, such as Ismene, to believe that they are subordinate people while other women, such as Antigone, to question this perception.
As heard in U2’s song “Miss Sarajevo,” societies can suppress women, yet some women are strong-willed and determined: “… a time to turn your eyes away… for getting on with your day… here she comes to take her crown” (Bono “Miss Sarajevo”). Works Cited Sophocles. “Antigone. ” The Norton Anthology of World Literature. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2013. N. pag. Print. Bono. “Get Your Boots On. ” Rec. 23 Jan. 2009. U2. Brian Eno, 2009. MP3. Bono. “Miss Sarajevo. ” Rec. Aug. 1995. Island. U2. Brian Eno, 1995. MP3.