Women and Gender Functions in “Antigone” simply by Sophocles
The discourse on gender issues and feminine social roles within the literature has already been associated primarily along with the works associated with 19th-century feminist authors. However, you will find good examples of much old literary pieces that will explored the exact same themes, and 1 of them will be Antigone, written simply by an ancient Greek tragedian, Sophocles. The play tells a story of a lady, Antigone, who disobeys the order of the ruler of Thebes, Kreon, who decided to leave the body of her brother unburied on the battlefield.
By doing so, the female protagonist showed that acting in accordance with own moral values and love for family is more important for her than obedience with authority. Such behavior was unconventional in ancient Athenian society in which women had limited rights and were submissive to and highly dependent on males that played superior roles in both the household and society. The defiance with social norms endows Sophocles’ character with feminist features. It is possible to say that the courage of Antigone in her struggle to assert her beliefs resembles the bravery with which modern women strive to protect their interests and promote gender equality.
Before explaining how the theme of gender in Sophocles’ play is linked to the situation in modern society and before analyzing specific examples from the text, it is appropriate to discuss the role of females in ancient Athens. According to Rayor, women in Athenian society were “lifelong legal minors” without any political and financial rights (xx). Male relatives served as their guardians and usually made all legal and financial decisions for them (Rayor xxi).
It means that since Antigone’s closest male relatives were dead and since she did not have a husband, Kreon became her guardian. Thus, she was expected to comply with his orders not merely because he was a king but also because he had a superior position in the family and society as any other man.
The idea about the inferior position of a woman in Athenian society can be traced in the way Kreon talks about women, in general, and Antigone, in particular. For instance, he says to Haemon that “one must defend order, and in no way be less than a woman.
Better felled by a man, if need be, than called weaker than women” (Sophocle 33). The statement shows that it is considered disgraceful for a man to be called weaker than a woman, and it implies that males by their very nature are stronger than females, both physically and mentally. It suggests that will females are seen as qualitatively even worse than males plus, therefore, are much less essential. In fact, Kreon says that this is better with regard to a man in order to die than become compared to the woman. This component of the declaration take into account an incredibly negative perception associated with female qualities plus roles by Athenian men.
It is also feasible to find calcado examples demonstrating that will the Athenian community was strictly hierarchical and women experienced less power inside it. For example, in the conversation with Antigone, Kreon says: “While We live, no lady shall rule me” (Sophocles 25). This particular statement is within line having a classical patriarchal perspective upon gender, which implies that will the social functions of men plus women are based on their inherent natural and psychological features. It implies that will women, by their own very nature, are usually unfit for top people and particularly males who are seen as more rational plus intellectually capable associated with taking leadership jobs and making the particular right political choices.
It will be worth noting that will Kreon reacts in order to Antigone’s disobedience along with his in an attempt to keep her brother unburied with an purpose to kill the girl, that is the almost all severe type of consequence that one may implement. The ruler of Thebes states:
I captured her in open up defiance,
she alone of almost all the citizens.
I won’t create myself an atar before the town.
I will certainly kill her … Basically nurture disorder
in my personal family, just how much a lot more so in other people? (Sophocles 32)
While Kreon’s reaction in order to Antigone’s deed can easily be explained via the lens associated with individual noncompliance along with political authority, it really is interrelated with the particular issue of sex inequality to the substantial extent. Inside the traditional patriarchal society, such because the one exactly where the plot associated with Sophocles’ play is placed, women are anticipated to become submissive plus compliant with the will of not only their guardians but all males in general. Besides, women are expected to demonstrate the utmost respect to men even when the activities and decisions from the latter contradict their own interests. Therefore, Antigone’s open disobedience will be unacceptable for Kreon and others within the privileged interpersonal position.
Not only her take action goes contrary to the founded social rules, yet it also undermines the king’s picture as powerful plus strong. By using this observation in order to a broader framework, it can become concluded that females’ disobedience threatens males’ interests that these people are usually capable to protect by managing order and motivating compliance.
Clearly, modern US ladies reside in a completely different situation compared to Antigone in historic Athens. They take pleasure in equal political plus financial rights because men, can acquire the high-quality education, plus engage in the great variety of professions and activities. Moreover, people do not consider it outrageous when a woman says something that contradicts a man’s decisions, words, and wishes. Overall, the presence of old-fashioned patriarchal social values is not so apparent in the present-day society as it was in the Athenian one, yet it is valid to say that they still affect the contemporary view on women.
In the United States, the effects of a stereotypical perception of females as less capable of doing socially and politically meaningful work can be observed in the phenomenon of the gender-based leadership gap. According to 2018 statistics, there is a disparity in the representation of males and females in leadership positions across different professional fields. For instance, only 16% of women perform the responsibilities of medical school deans, 30% of college presidents, and 12. 5% of chief financial officials (Warner et ing. ).
Besides, women are considerably underrepresented in the particular sphere of politics leadership, with merely 24% of them being members of Congress and 18% – governors across different states (Warner et al. ). One of the possible reasons for the existence of this leadership gap is a biased perspective on females’ capabilities and a wrongful belief that, due to their innate qualities, women are less suitable for leading organizations and people.
The gender pay gap also verifies that men’s work is often regarded as more important than the work completed by women. According to Graf et al., although the gender pay gap has decreased significantly within a period of a few decades, it still persists. Statistics show that in 2017, women received merely 80% of what men in the same professional contexts and positions earned (Graf et al. ). To a substantial degree, the lack of payment parity is due to gender-based discrimination at work (Graf et al. ). It means that the social and legal system in the United States does not discriminate against females openly anymore. Nevertheless, similarly to Kreon, many contemporary males hold beliefs about their inherent superiority, do not regard women as equals, and cannot accept the idea that the latter can perform well and sometimes even better than men.
Regardless of biased attitudes and prejudice, more and more modern women both in the United States and abroad take the stance of proactive disobedience. However, just like Antigone, they do it not in a violent way but simply by living in compliance using their interests, ideals, and beliefs. The greater number associated with present-day women adhere to their passions plus become courageous plenty of to make non-traditional choices in existence that might be inconceivable simply a century back.
They turn out to be scientists, researchers, people and pursue some other careers that typically were dominated simply by males. Unfortunately, within Sophocles’ play, the particular protagonists could hardly endure the social stress since she has been to go towards the authority plus the established custom all by their self. Nevertheless, modern ladies have greater possibilities for success because more people associated with different genders identify gender-based disparities. It really is valid to state that such fictional pieces as Antigone help the promotion associated with gender equality within the modern globe. They allow visitors to understand about the particular detrimental nature associated with gender pride plus understand how sex inequality may negatively impact individuals’ life, as well because society.
Graf, Nikki, et al. “The Narrowing, but Prolonged, Gender Gap within Pay. ” Pew Research Center. 2019. Web.
Rayor, Diane J. “Introduction. ” Sophocles’ Antigone: A New Translation, edited by Diane J. Rayor, Cambridge University Press, last year, pp. xi-xxiv.
Sophocles. “Antigone. ” Sophocles’ Antigone: A brand new Translation, edited simply by Diane J. Rayor, Cambridge University Push, 2011, pp. 1-64.
Warner, Judith, et al. “The Women’s Management Gap. ” Center for American Progress. 2018. Web.