Gender roles have contributed significantly to the way society functions. Throughout Sophocles play Antigone, he uses gender roles to explain the reasoning and actions behind each character. In the Theban society Ismene represents the stereotypical womens gender role while her sister Antigone stands for just the opposite. In addition, Creon is societies standard view of power an dominance in male gender roles. Each gender role the characters in Antigone play are key to the development and ongoing issues of the play.
Ismene is how the present society sees women. Ismene is a women who is timid to the all males in Theban and is smothered by the authority a male figure held back in the Greek ages. She does not stand tall as an equal against men, Remember we are women, were not born to contend with men. Then too, were underlings, ruled by much stronger hands so we must submit in this and things still worse (pg..62 L.73). Ismene does not agree with the way Creon is ruling, but she knows her place in society and does not want to break the societal norms that have been created for women by standing up for her own beliefs. Ismene struggles with the power man holds over women in the Theban society which results in fear for being anything different. She desperately tries to convince her sister Antigone to not step out of her womanly boundaries by disobeying Creon but Antigone is appalled but the words coming out of Ismenes mouth.
Antigone stands for everything Ismene is not. She is brave, opinionated as well as a strong believer in following her morals and values. With these qualities, Antigone is a type of women Creon has always tried to prevent from happening in his city; a women with a voice. She disobeys Creons laws by giving her brother, who was deemed a traitor of Thebes, a proper burial. It was forbidden in Thebes to give anyone who was not deserving a proper burial. Ismene followed these absurd rules set in place by Creon. Antigone, however, had a whole different outlook on this situation, followed her morals by herself, and did not leave her brother out in the land to rot and be destroyed by wild animals. Antigone never let her sister forget the decision she made, Never share my dying, dont lay claim to what you never touched (pg..87). By Antigone stepping out of her generalized boundaries of a women and dishonoring the kings rule he had set in place about burial her punishment for the crime was death. Creon could not stand the disrespectful rebellion act of Antigone therefore he made an example out of her. Antigone was proud of being sentenced to a glorified death and she did not let Ismene take any part in the consequences of her actions. She showed no regret or remorse by her decision to bury her traitor brother because in Antigones eyes it was the right thing to do Instead Antigone wants her to feel the guilt and pain for not being able to follow her morals and stand up to men. Antigone destroyed Creons status of power and importance by deifying his laws and in turn instead of Creon dealing with his own wrong doings he took the easy way out, Antigones life.
From being king, Creon has established himself as a man of law and respect and order. For Antigone to challenge his status and for some time make Creon feel inferior to a women was unforgivable in his mind. Creon saw that women were not equal to men, that they were not worthy enough to share the same opportunities and have any type of input on important matters in society. Due to Creons lack of judgment, Antigone rebelled against him and buried her brother her family because she decided that she answers to no man, but to a higher power. Creon let it be known it society that it is, Better to fall from power, if fall we must, at the hands of a man- never be rated inferior to a women, never (pg..94).
use of gender roles within the play demonstrates the accepted gender norms are what they should not be
Demonstrates gender roles were known to be wrong .