Gender Roles in Antigone

Exclusively available on PapersOwl
Updated: Apr 30, 2024
Read Summary
Cite this
Gender Roles in Antigone

Delve into how Sophocles’ ‘Antigone’ challenges and reinforces ancient Greek gender roles. Focus on Antigone’s defiance against patriarchal authority, juxtaposed with more traditional female characters. Discuss themes like civil disobedience, the conflict between individual rights and state laws, and the role of women in society. Evaluate whether Antigone is a proto-feminist character or a product of her time. Additionally, PapersOwl presents more free essays samples linked to Antigone.

Date added
Pages:  6
Words:  1671
Order Original Essay

How it works

Essentially family, the roles of women and men, and death plays a vital role in society. Family values have certain qualities that are crucial for a family to uphold. Gender roles have differed from ancient times to currently in today’s society. Unlike religious gods today, Greek gods took human form and had the same dilemmas human have in society. In a short story of Antigone, Sophocles illustrates a rage between family and what is deemed by society. Families today are very different compared to back in Greek mythology where a family is getting eaten alive or killed to get to the top of the throne.

Need a custom essay on the same topic?
Give us your paper requirements, choose a writer and we’ll deliver the highest-quality essay!
Order now

In comparison to today, the impact of gods changed drastically with family, gender roles and death.

The importance of a deity’s role within a family in society has weakened. Families in ancient Greek times were living in fear. Based on studies, the gods in Greek mythology were worshiped and cherished despite their flaws or negative characteristics. Evidence of this claim that the gods had a lack of mercy and forgiveness to their people which can be found in the story Antigone. Antigone is a story in which a law set by Creon the king of Thebes was broken. It was broken because of a belief that someone’s moral laws were stronger and more important than a contradicting religious law which was enforced by Zeus himself. “Leave him unburied, leave his corpse disgraced, a dinner for the birds and for the dogs. (Sophocles 7)”. This demonstrates that Creon want Polyneices to remain an example for others who went against the gods and anyone who sided with him would feel the wrath of heaven.

Antigone however who plays a vital role in the play believed in a different fate for her brother. Having a bold strong attitude she was more concerned for the burial of her brother’s body than her own life. In the process of burying her brother, she knew the consequences that had to come with what she did and that includes sacrificing her life. Antigone communicates “it’s not for him to keep me from my own.” (3) This illustrates Antigone doesn’t care what risks come with her burying her brother. In addition, she valued her brother and loved him which is why she was so passionate and felt justified for burying her brother. As for Creon the king of the Thebes he believed it was crucial that everyone must follow the law. Antigone was a family member, who was related to Ceron, he made sure to make Antigone a prime example of not to disobey by making sure she gets buried alive. Antigone put her family as the most important priority even after disobeying the king, there is no other way to say a family is very paramount in greek.

The role of God in today’s society is the same but enforced differently. Many Catholics refer to God as Father because that is the relationship they believe exists between man and God. Individuals today follow God because they love and respect god not because they fear him. Many families in today’s society don’t look up to god as a figure above them or many families don’t believe in god. In today’s customs, many people have the option to worship what God they want without a ruler forcing them to believe in a certain one either. Whether is Catholic, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism etc. people are allowed to believe in their religion without being harmed.

The difference of roles between men and women have alternated and unified throughout time in society. Greek societies were strictly male dominant. In the Greek era, men thought that women should not make any decisions because women had a diminished role in society. Women in that era were not able to vote, own land or do anything to voice an opinion or share insight. Males, however, were supposed to have his values and his rules be dictated. A woman’s job during that time was that of a limited role in only having to stay at home rearing children (Cartwright 2016). For instance in Antigone, Creon saw women as weak and unimportant in society. Creon felt that it was obligated that he was obeyed and no women will go over his authority. Creon states, “no women rules me while I live” (18). This shows that Creon perceives women as beneath him and belittes them and they should be subordinate. Women, however, were strong enough to go against men and rulers like this. Antigone was one of the women who went against a ruler like this for her own moral beliefs. Antigone’s says “I say I did it I don’t deny it” (15) This shows that Antigone has a belief and the strength to carry what her beliefs are no matter the repercussion. She has the strength to do what she believed in going against the belief of men in and her religious god. However, most of the women in Greek mythology didn’t want to oppose the authority and beliefs of men. Such as Antigone own sister Ismene. As seen in the text “We must remember that we are two women so not to fight with men” (3) This suggests that Ismene believes she is weaker than men because she is a woman and Antigone should just obey Creon because he’s the one who makes the laws. Women just were to accept their home roles in society while the male did the work and everything else. For example “…Is so obvious that women were always under the supervision of men(Lefkowitz 11). In these times it’s just how they lived that woman had a diminished role compared to that of a male. These beliefs that woman should have their own voice and their role should be equal throughout time have been shared and fought for by others. She shouldn’t be punished for doing what she believed is right and many others after her felt the same way in theirs’ and present time.

Today in society men and women actually are on equal terms. Whether it’s just input into a conversation or competing for jobs men and women are put on an equal playing field. In the story, Antigone displays to readers equality at its worst compared to it being well improved today. Creon was their king which represents our modern day leader and imagine if ours believed if one half of the population was more important than the other. In Greek mythology, men had a more significant role then woman. “Men had the dominant role in public life in ancient Greece. They were engaged in politics and public events, while women were often encouraged to stay in the home (Roles of Men)”. This shows that men were more superior. Today, however, there are no restrictions on women. Today a woman could even become the leader of a society and can have the same impact as a man could have.

It is imperative when an individual dies the body must be buried so a deity won’t be angered. In the Greek era, it was sacred for someone to bury the dead and to ensure that the dead made it safely through the underworld. “Greeks believed that after death a soul went on a journey to a place called the underworld which is called hades” (Death in Ancient Greece). This illustrates that for the dead soul to go on the journey to have an afterlife one must be buried. For Antigone, it was a sign for her to make sure her brother made it safely through the underworld because she was religious and believed that it was a necessity to due out of respect and love. If she hadn’t buried her brother he wouldn’t be able to go on to the afterlife. Creon, because he was the king of Thebes Antigone thought it was he who was committing a crime for denying her right to bury her brother and send him happily to the afterlife. For Antigone, she must honor her brothers’ rights to an afterlife but gods didn’t want to bury her brother so he can rest in peace and he can’t rest in peace if he doesn’t get the proper burial. Antigone states “Nor did I think your orders were so strong that you, a mortal man, could over-run the gods’ unwritten and failing laws” (15) This shows that Antigone thinks Creon is a fool and presenting a challenge to him, and she questioning his authority at the same time. Antigone also feels at free spirit because she knows she going to die so she is doing what she wants to justify her reasoning.

In today’s society, with the death god plays a vital role because God would want everyone to get the proper burial. Religion plays a huge aspect in society. The Greek era differs a bit because once a body is buried the expired corpse of the human being is in the hands of the law. In today’s customs, many family members of the individual who passed away would have a funeral and then a burial. A funeral, however, has kept the same meaning throughout time. Which is a gathering to cherish the loss of the deceased. Everyone no matter what time period and what wrong has been done deserves a proper burial and funeral.

To conclude, Greek gods and God in today’s society have many shared and different laws and influences within the role of a family, gender roles and death. Greek gods tell their story from how they want the world to be seen as. Greek gods differ from God in how they deal with human flaws. Greek gods were more imposed on political interests. Over the centuries Greek Mythology had a huge influence on culture, literature poets. In Antigone, Creon let his power in over his head and he was more focus on being a replicant and mouth of Zeus then being in charge of Thebes. Greek mythology continues to play a fundamental role in society especially in schools.  

The deadline is too short to read someone else's essay
Hire a verified expert to write you a 100% Plagiarism-Free paper

Cite this page

Gender Roles in Antigone. (2021, Jun 11). Retrieved from