The play revolves around a family of four siblings, two brothers and two sisters bereaved of their parents. It follows that Eteocles the younger brother to the two sisters engage in a fierce battle with Polinices his older brother over who is to rule Thebes.
Both lose their lives and Creon their uncle assumes position of power. Creon declares that Eteocles is to be given a state funeral but outlaws the burial of polinices who in any case was the offended party as he had every right to rule Thebes.
Antigone the last of Cadmus family that was riddled with tragedy defies the king’s order against her sister’s advice and goes ahead to burry her brother. The events that follow clearly indicate how abuse of power by a reckless ruler can lead to oppression of women who often suffer in silence unable to act and the resulting consequence to a society that does not listen to the voice of its women.
Ismene is quick to stop her sister from carrying out her intention of defying the king’s order without success. She goes ahead to tell her sister that in a society dominated by men, it would only be prudent as a woman to follow orders given by men however unreasonable they may seem.
Ismenes position reflects the role that women were supposed to play in that society (Sayre 12). Creon is so offended by this action and he states that if the culprit is not brought to justice, the culprit would be the man and he the woman as he took it to be completely improper for a woman to defy orders given by a man.
Antigone was stubborn to the point of her death. Traditionally, few women would defy men but in the recent times, women of courage have taken steps to defy stereotypes that often limit their potential. Like Antigone, their attempt to do the right thing is often met with resistance but their courage has often seen them prevail (Sayre 97). For instance, in the recent times there has been an increase of women in leadership positions.
The play demonstrates that true courage grows stronger on opposition. Antigone’s convictions are so strong that her sister decides to join her in her execution. Haemon the King’s son who was betrothed to Antigone follows suit and tries to talk his father out of his folly.
The entire Thebes community knows Antigone is right but they cannot proclaim this in the open due to fear of offending their king. Teiresias the blind prophet tries to talk the king out of his folly but his arrogance which allows him to look down on women has blindfolded him and he only acts when it is too late.
His recklessness leads Antigone to kill herself and his son commits suicide. Her wife Eurydice who comes much later does not talk much. On learning about her son’s death, we are told that she “silently” gets away and later commits suicide. The appearance of the queen at the end of the play and her silence is symbolic how women leadership was suppressed then. T
he Play teaches that in a society whose leaders do not listen to the voice of reason or conscience by consistently looking down on women, such a society is likely to face tragic failure if women are not given equal chance with men. If the queen’s voice mattered, such chaos would not have taken place.
Sayre, Henry. The Humanities: Culture, Continuity and Change 1st edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 2008. Print.
Sayre, Henry. The Humanities: Culture, Continuity and Change 2nd edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 2011. Print.