Antigone Essay Prompts

Antigone Essay Prompts-52
The collective noun “womankind” emphasizes Creon’s gender essentialism, where women – in Creon’s worldview – are identified with intrinsically and universally feminine characteristics such as “[weakness].” Creon’s stark admission that he would be willing to concede if Antigone were a man reveals his fear of turning power over to a woman, which would upset his belief in masculine superiority.

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Creon’s use of the wider category “[women]” instead of pinpointing Antigone as a specific individual suggests that Creon regards his conflict with Antigone not as one between the state and the individual, but as one between men and women.Sophocles presents a skewed power dynamic between men and women in Thebes as the conflict between Antigone and Creon unfolds.Ismene’s advice to Antigone, “we two are women, / so not to fight with men” (61-62) points to the inferior power position that women hold in Theban society and the gendered assumptions that inform civil obedience.Thus, in ancient Greece, gender essentialism operated to box men and women into gendered roles.Written against the backdrop of such a political context, appears to reinforce the gender essentialism pervasive in ancient Greece at the time.As Creon’s political rhetoric unravels, his gender ideology further emerges as a dominant reason for insisting on Antigone’s punishment.In a passionate outburst, he insists that he “not let [himself] be beaten by a woman.According to Helene Foley, ancient Greek culture “reinforced symbolic links between female, ‘nature,’ domestic/private, emotion/the irrational, and passivity and male, culture, public, rational/the self-controlled, and activity” (232).Such a systematic dichotomization of gendered characteristics, while seemingly arbitrary, has systemic political consequences – the political structure “identifies itself with a limited group of free men…Creon’s insistence that “I won’t be called weaker than womankind” (680) reveals a male superiority complex that aligns masculinity with strength and dominance and femininity with weakness and subordination.Even the Chorus of Theban elders, assumed to hold a neutral perspective so as to advise Creon on matters of society, consists entirely of old Theban men, excluding female perspectives from the political arena.


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