Traits of Antigone’s Character

In Antigone, written by Bertolt Brecht and Sophocles, a character who has a successful quest for justice is Antigone herself because, even though she dies in the end, her message has a lasting effect on all the characters. Antigone becomes a symbol of a female fighting for her personal beliefs, even in spite of the pressure from society that looks down on such ideals. Her actions that were depicted in the play inspire and influence what being a strong and fearless woman can result in, even in hard times.

To better understand why Antigone was is still considered a role model and feminist hero in the literature, it’s important to look at the time period in which she rebelled. Antigone is believed to have been written around 441 b.c. and was written and performed in Athens, Greece. Ancient Greece played a large role in the increase of patriarchal practices during this time period. Women were stripped of their rights and their opinions were not valid in almost any situation. A great amount the male justification for dominating the government and society is rooted in Greek Mythology which therefore influenced the society as a whole to fall into the idea that these gender roles should be practiced.

Many women accepted the fact that they were inferior to men as seen in lines 69-70 with Ismene telling Antigone, “For this we need remember, we were born women; as such, not made to strive with men.” By saying this when her sister suggests burying their own brother Polynices to honor him, shows that some women enforced the societal standards on themselves and shamed other women who did not agree. One of the major parts of the story is Antigone rebelling against the infamous patriarchal leader of Thebes, Creon.

The quotes made by this man such as “Better be beaten, if need be, by a man, Than let a woman get the better of us.’ (Page 144) and ‘We’ll have no woman’s law here, while I live.’ (Page 140) show his pride in not considering women to be equal to men in his city. This is significant because, by Antigone showing little to no hesitation in rebelling against Creon’s law proves that Antigone is not afraid to not conform to the traditional place that powerful male leaders, such as Creon have put her into.

Antigone though, rebels not for personal gain but for someone she feels the need to protect who happens to be a man- her brother. Something important to note is Antigone is not fighting just for the equal rights of other women, but for both sexes. This is one reason why many refer to her as a feminist hero, because feminism is not only for womens benefit but for all genders to considered egalitarian. It can be a misconception that her goal and reason to be fighting for justice was to seize Creon’s influential place in society and rise above a man’s power. Antigone is purely wanting to bury Polyneices to preserve his honor. ‘It was by this service to your dear body, Polynices, I earned this punishment … it was for your honour.’ (Lines 901 – 903)

Some might interpret that by her risking she life for her brother, she is following the standards of what patriarchy means. By her placing her credit, appreciation, respect and even her life on a man, she is not staying true to her own worth and values. When doing this, she does stray away from the typical path a true feminist would follow. But she is doing this to find satisfaction in honoring her family, knowing she is doing good things even though people tell her she is wrong.

Antigone in the play, for many reasons could be seen as the tragic hero which helps identify key reasons on if she was successful or not and her quest for justice. For one, Creon in the end regrets that he has been too focused on his own sense of pride and the biased order that he made has resulted in a terrible tragedy due to his poor judgement. Antigone, on the other hand does not experience any form of regret because from the start of her rebellion, she knew most likely what would happen to her. Antigone follows her beliefs by following tradition because she feels she’s doing the right thing.

Moreover, she justifies her actions by communicating to Creon why she is fighting so hard.“ Think Death less than a friend? This death of mine Is of no importance, but if I had left my brother Lying in death unburied, I should have suffered. Now I do not. You smile at me. Ah Creon , Think me a fool, if you like, but it may well be That a fool convicts me of folly” (Line 709) This shows an example of Antigone defending her actions and once again, sticking to her morals. Another heroic characteristic is the intense feeling of love that pours out of Antigone.

No matter what will happen to her own life, she will do anything to make sure to properly bury Polyneices. ‘But I will bury him; and if I must die, I will say this crime is holy’ (p694) Ismene attempts to take the blame for her brother being buried but fails when Antigone puts all the blame on herself. This is a fearless and courageous move she made and shows how much she loved her family. Antigone also possesses a strong sense of determination. Nobody could stop her in her decision to go against authority and that is shown when she says , ‘Creon is not strong enough to stand in my way.’ ( p694).

Every tragic hero possesses a tragic flaw which inevitably leads to their downfall, in Antigone‘s case her suicide. Antigone is so stubborn yet so loyal which unfortunately causes her to be blinded by the effects of her rebellion on all the other characters. What will happen to Ismene, who persuades her to follow Creon’s law never crosses her mind . Only thinking about herself and not how her actions affect even her own family will follow in the real tragedy of this play .