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Antigone - Importance of gender in the opening scene

Uploaded by scatzz on Dec 12, 2001

In looking at the first few exchanges between Ismene and Antigone by Sophocles, it is greatly apparent that there are plenty of social issues surrounding women from ancient Greece. In looking at the contextual background of the playwright, the representation of the women within the play and at the imagined response of a contemporary and ancient audience; we can see that this play raises many gender and socially related issues.

Looking briefly at the contextual element to the play in terms of the playwright, it is worth considering that Sophocles himself was a political writer. He was elected by lot to become one of nine generals to command during an ancient skirmish. This took place the same year he wrote the play 'Antigone'. His fame for writing this play propelled him into fame among his peers and fellow citizens.

Even within the play itself we can see that there is a political effort. This comes directly from the protagonist King Creon. He wants to rule fairly but firmly. His power as, not only a King, but as a human being come into focus to an audience as he must decided whether or not to go against his heart by killing his niece for disobeying a law he laid down. This is also a law he could quite simply change, but he doesn't. This would directly give any audience the notion that the ideal ruler is someone who can put the matters of their heart to one side and put the greater good of the people first.

When we meet the characters in the first scene, it is important to note what they actually say about each other and their knowledge of their own social status. When we meet Antigone, she is the first character to speak. The audience later learns that she is the antagonist of the play as she rebels against the protagonist, Creon. It is also worth noting that there is a similarity between the name of the heroine Antigone and the term antagonist. This gives the audience, especially of ancient Greece the feeling that Antigone has been fated to be the antagonist and to die for it in a tragic manner. Her sister Ismene who is the second character the audience will meet initially describes Antigone. "You seem so dark and grim" (25) says Ismene of her sister. This tells us that the mood of the other character is somber;...

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Uploaded by:   scatzz

Date:   12/12/2001

Category:   Antigone

Length:   5 pages (1,023 words)

Views:   2614

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