Feminism in Antigone

antigonelogo811.png
A foundation dedicated to promoting feminism and strong women in society that is named after the protagonst of the play. (Click the logo for more info)
The text Antigone has many qualities of feminist literature due to Antigone’s belief in, the way she is treated, and her actions. The play shows that Antigone has a deep concern for family with the central conflict of the play where she buries her brother even though she is forbidden from doing so because he is a traitor. Concern for family is a one of the major characteristics of feminist literature and Antigone has it in spades. She is also a very strong and defiant lead character which comes out as another characteristic of feminist literature when she is compared to her sister. Ismene, Antigone’s sister, is the perfect example of a stereotypical female. When talking to Antigone in the prologue, Ismene shows that she believes that women just have to be subjugated to the wills of men when she says, “Think how much more terrible than these our own death would be if we should go against Creon and do what he has forbidden! We are only women we cannot fight with men, Antigone!” (Prologue, pg. 191). Ismene says that is better if women don’t try to compete with men and just stay in the shadows. Antigone’s concern for how Creon is placing governmental power above social and religious power. This is another prominent feminist theme in this play since she goes against her ruler’s decree and buries her brother. When she admits to Creon that she had defied his orders and buried her brother, Creon becomes livid and begins to speak about how women are weaker than men and how he shall not fall to them. He shows his stance on the subjugation of women in response from calls from the chorus to pardon Antigone when he says, “No, no: good lives are made so by discipline. We keep the laws then, and the lawmakers, and no woman shall seduce us. If we must lose, let’s lose to a man, at least! Is a woman stronger than we” (Scene 3, pg.218). He goes on to show how he feels that women are weaker than men when he insults his son Haimon by saying, “This boy [Haimon] , it seems, has sold out to a woman.” (Scene 3, pg.221) This insult shows that Creon believes that being controlled by a woman is something to be avoided at all costs. In the end, the play displays yet another major aspect of feminist literature when it uses the character Antigone as an agent of change in Thebes. Creon loses political clout in Thebes after she dies because the citizens see that she was trying to do what was right in the eyes of the gods while Creon opposed her. All of her beliefs, actions, and all of the things that she is subjected to make the play a strong piece of feminist literature. Its strong and defiant female lead champions the fact that men aren’t the only ones who can be powerful, respectable, and correct. Antigone is a text that embodies what feminist texts are.