Antigone: Written During the Period of Male Domination
Antigone was written during a time period consisting of male domination. Women were expected to take on a subservient role and do as they were told. They were inferior and had no say whatsoever in anything. Sophocles uses Antigone’s character to portray women who are courageous and can make their own decisions. He uses Creon’s character to represent the arrogant and stubborn viewpoint of men during this time period. When Creon is told of the burial of Polyneices’ body, he tells Sentry, “If you do not bring light to the those men who have done this… (Sophocles 1139). Creon automatically assumes it is a man thus influencing Sentry that it must be a man as well. When Sentry comes back he explains what he saw. “For there was no mark of axe’s stroke nor casting up of earth of any mattock; the ground was hard and dry, unborn; there was no signs of wagon wheels” (Sophocles 1137). Since there seemed to be no aid in the moving and burial of the body, it appeared to them it absolutely had to be a man. Even after Sentry brings Antigone to Creon, he still wasnt sure.
He doubtfully asks, “Do you know what you are saying? Do you mean it? ” (Sophocles 1141). He is in disbelief that a women would disobey him so. Antigone tells Creon without fear or hesitation she was the one who buried the body. It would be immortal to leave it to rot on the streets. The only laws she was submissive to was those of the Gods. Only they could make laws over life and death. Hearing this enrages Creon, causing his actions to be affected by his pride as a man and not his thinking as a leader.
When Creon says, “I am no man and she the man if she can win this and not pay for it,” (Sophocles 1143) it shows his true hubris. Even if he felt Antigone’s actions were justifiable, he would not allow her to live because she was a woman. In his eyes if he let her get away with defying his edict, he would be losing power to a mere woman. His pride not allowing that automatically condemns her to death. By killing Antigone it will restore the balance of power back to him. The conflict between Antigone and Creon is not solely based on her breaking his edict.
If the same incident had happened but instead a man committed the crime, a different outcome most likely would have happened. By Creon saying, “Die then, and love the dead if thou must; No woman shall be the master while I live” (Sophocles 1144). His rage and disgust that a woman would defy him made him come to his verdict. He no longer is worried about his law being broken. His reasoning is not based on what is right or rational but on man maintaining the power over woman.