Sophocles’ Antigone Human Rights

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Inequality in Society

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One iconic saying that is known worldwide is “women and children first,” and it is usually used whenever we find ourselves in a life-threatening situation. Some could argue that people are just trying to be mindful of the vulnerable people who are not capable of saving themselves, but some could disagree and say that women and children are the future in society. It is a bit obvious that everyone has different opinions to various views. Back in the Greek era people practiced this rigid idea that created an inequality among people. To the point where men were known to be the ones to bring the money to the table and women were known as stay at home moms. In today’s era, that same idea has changed into a more uncommon way of living, women are able to work, they have more freedom to do what they want, but we are a long way from treating everyone as equal human beings. In Sophocles’ Antigone, he reinstitutes an old Greek idea of how men and women should act in society based on Creon’s position of being a king, the brothers fighting wanting the throne, and the authors decision of giving Antigone, Ismene, and the queen roles that are insignificant to the roles of the male characters.

Based on the use of Ismene’s character, the author creates her character to represent the idea that men are superior than women to exhibit inequality, since she does not want to defy the King’s authority or become an enemy of the King. As Antigone seeks for Ismene’s help to help her bury her brother, Ismene responds, “You ought to realize we are only women, not meant in nature to fight against men, and that we are ruled, by those who are stronger” (Sophocles 70-72). This explains the idea that women are dependent of men and they are perceived as weaklings. Moreover, the author influences the reader that women should never questions a man’s authority. Which establishes the perception of women not being able to fend for themselves. As well as In Christopher F. Karpowitz’s article, “Gender Inequality in Deliberative Participation” explains what women tend to do when they are given the opportunity to share their ideas and writes that, “the lower the number of women in a group, the less participate in and influence it” (Karpowitz 534). This theorizes that women are unable to think for themselves even when they are in a group. For example, we can argue that this is an example of one man being equally as good as ten women put together. Men are seen as independent thinkers, meanwhile women are either undecisive or scared to express their ideas. This is also an example of how men are superior to than women by explain that a man can compete with women.

The author establishes the role of how women and men should act in society-based on Antigone’s dialect and the way the characters communicated with each other. While Creon interrogated Antigone for what she had done, Antigone explains that she did what she did because, “My nature is to join in love, not hate” (575). Antigone’s character represents the Greek notion of women being peaceful and not to be influenced with the idea of war and destruction. In other words, women back then believed in resolving their conflicts with peace and love. This example, is one reason as to why men were only able to rule a kingdom, since there was a perception of women handling conflicts by talking instead of action. Most people would agree that actions are louder than words, and therefore a woman ruling a kingdom would mean a vulnerable target. The idea of women talking instead of taking action indicates that women tend to act second, but by the time they have acted it would have been too late. In the article, “Feminism for Them?” Susan Faludi describes the struggles of being a woman because they have to endure with laws that tell them how to live life and explains that, “we have never-ending backlash: the war against abortion and Planned parenthood, the stripping away of social programs that support working mothers” (Faludi 151). This basically explains that from the Greek times to now, things have not change much when it comes to deciding what women are able to do. For example, men are still deciding what women are allowed to do with their own bodies. Even though, there are people who are pro and against abortions, the ones who decide what is right or wrong are men in politics. However, their decisions to be against abortions are at times influenced by religion and their beliefs in God. One important thing to note is that politics are mainly operated by men, therefore women have not been able to do much in the aspect of choosing their own way of living. Let’s not dismiss the fact that women are still able to make their own decisions and for the most part have the freedom to do whatever they like, but men have more freedom than women. For example, most women have relied on government aid programs to be able to care for their families, and this is because of the fact that men get paid better wages than women. This could be because of all the government aid that provides for women cost money, however not all women are constantly needing these government programs. So, it is unfair to take away money when most women don’t even know about these programs or simply do not use them.

In this drama, the women are recognized as selflessness to indicate that they have good morals, however men are depicted as individuals who act based on what they think is right and do not care if their actions are the righteous way of doing things. This depicts the idea that individuals are narrowminded and only think one way depending on their genders. Towards the beginning of the play Antigone stated, “I shall lie by his side, loving him as he loved me; I shall be a criminal- but a religious one” (83-85) to Ismene to explain her reasoning of wanting to bury her brother. This is an example of women doing things because they are more emotional driving than men. The author, makes Antigone look like she is a woman with good morals like integrity, loyalty, and fairness. She is portrayed as a person with integrity because she defied Creon’s authority, she is seen as loyal because she respected her religious values. She is also viewed as a fair woman, due to the fact that she respected the values of a human being by giving a proper burial. Most of these values are considered to be common among the idea of Greek feminism, which the author included to help the reader visualize how women used to think. It sets a partition of the way men and women think about certain topics and ideas. In Alda Facio’s article, “From Basic Needs to Basic Rights” suggests that “understanding the basic needs of women…will help us better to define human rights pertaining to women as well as men” (Facio 17). She basically portrays women as selflessness and she is also suggesting that women can make laws that would not only benefit them, but everyone equally. This is a way of saying that women know what is best for both genders. As laws continue to be stablished, many have recognized the women still do not have equal rights and most of the human rights that have been stablished are only benefitting the men. One thing to point out is that women’s rights can eventually become recognized as human rights that will create an equality in the world.

Men are stereotyped as sexist by Sophocles based on how the characters fought to become the new king, which portrays the idea of men always wanting to be the alpha male of a group and are preferred to become leaders over women. Towards the middle of the play, Creon explains to Antigone that, “But the good man does not seek an equal share only, with the bad” (571-572) to explain why he does want to show compassion to his enemy. This is an example of men being labeled as having toxic masculinity thoughts. For example, the author suggests that men are afraid of being below women’s authority. Men are at a constant need of being the alpha male of the group. To hide their insecurities from anyone, since men are pictured to be human beings without any emotional compassion and that is how man express their overall masculinity. By men wanting to be the alpha male, it creates an environment of survival of the fittest, suggesting that men are conservative to their views. However, some would argue that men focusing on one thing at a time can mean that they are not great multitaskers and can’t focus on other problems they may need to solve. On the other hand, by focusing on one issue at a time, men can drastically improve that one problem. In the article “Women, Men, and Dominance in Small Groups: A Social Roles Assessment” by Aysan Sev’er, explains that when things are run by men, it creates a less tense environment by pointing out that, “there will be a positive relationship between influence and dominance for men while the same behavior in women is expected to lead to fewer rewards and harsher evaluations”(Sev’re 268). Therefore, it supports the idea that working for a man is easier than working for a woman. This is due to the fact that women focus more in wanting to be multitask, perfection, and are more detailed oriented. However, by having men in charge, they are able to get people’s attention better than women. Since women are portrait as individuals who tend to isolate from a large group. Meanwhile, men are interested in being the center of attention because they like to seek recognition and like people to listen to them. In a way they believe they are some kind of importance to society.

Men and women are always given specific stereotypical roles in stories to portray the idea of feminism. In Antigone, the author metaphorically identifies Ismene as a symbol of men being at a higher ranking than women. The author also suggests how women should contribute to civilization. He also identifies men being physically stronger but women having better morals than men. Lastly the author identifies the way men act when they are given authority over women. These examples fabricate the theory of feminist equalities between men and women. They portrait the unbalanced right of men and women instead of helping to establish equal human rights.

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Sophocles’ Antigone Human Rights. (2022, Apr 06). Retrieved April 1, 2023 , from

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