Antigone Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
ISMENE Bethink thee, sister, of our father's fate, Abhorred, dishonored, self-convinced of sin, Blinded, himself his executioner. Think of his mother-wife (ill sorted names) Done by a noose herself had twined to death And last, our hapless brethren in one day, Both in a mutual destiny involved, Self-slaughtered, both the slayer and the slain. Bethink thee, sister, we are left alone; Shall we not perish wretchedest of all, If in defiance of the law we cross A monarch's will?--weak women, think of that, Not framed by nature to contend with men. Remember this too that the stronger rules; We must obey his orders, these or worse. Therefore I plead compulsion and entreat The dead to pardon. I perforce obey The powers that be. 'Tis foolishness, I ween, To overstep in aught the golden mean. (49-68)
Ismene argues that because she and Antigone are women, they lack the power to defy the state.
CREON Elders, the gods have righted one again Our storm-tossed ship of state, now safe in port. But you by special summons I convened As my most trusted councilors; first, because I knew you loyal to Laius of old; Again, when Oedipus restored our State, Both while he ruled and when his rule was o'er, Ye still were constant to the royal line. Now that his two sons perished in one day, Brother by brother murderously slain, By right of kinship to the Princes dead, I claim and hold the throne and sovereignty. Yet 'tis no easy matter to discern The temper of a man, his mind and will, Till he be proved by exercise of power; And in my case, if one who reigns supreme Swerve from the highest policy, tongue-tied By fear of consequence, that man I hold, And ever held, the basest of the base. And I contemn the man who sets his friend Before his country. For myself, I call To witness Zeus, whose eyes are everywhere, If I perceive some mischievous design To sap the State, I will not hold my tongue; Nor would I reckon as my private friend A public foe, well knowing that the State Is the good ship that holds our fortunes all: Farewell to friendship, if she suffers wreck. Such is the policy by which I seek To serve the Commons and conformably I have proclaimed an edict as concerns The sons of Oedipus; Eteocles Who in his country's battle fought and fell, The foremost champion--duly bury him With all observances and ceremonies That are the guerdon of the heroic dead. But for the miscreant exile who returned Minded in flames and ashes to blot out His father's city and his father's gods, And glut his vengeance with his kinsmen's blood, Or drag them captive at his chariot wheels-- For Polyneices 'tis ordained that none Shall give him burial or make mourn for him, But leave his corpse unburied, to be meat For dogs and carrion crows, a ghastly sight. So am I purposed; never by my will Shall miscreants take precedence of true men, But all good patriots, alive or dead, Shall be by me preferred and honored. (280-314)
Creon automatically assumes the law-breaker is a man.
CREON Well, let her know the stubbornest of wills Are soonest bended, as the hardest iron, O'er-heated in the fire to brittleness, Flies soonest into fragments, shivered through. A snaffle curbs the fieriest steed, and he Who in subjection lives must needs be meek. But this proud girl, in insolence well-schooled, First overstepped the established law, and then-- A second and worse act of insolence-- She boasts and glories in her wickedness. Now if she thus can flout authority Unpunished, I am woman, she the man. But though she be my sister's child or nearer Of kin than all who worship at my hearth, Nor she nor yet her sister shall escape The utmost penalty, for both I hold, As arch-conspirators, of equal guilt. Bring forth the older; even now I saw her Within the palace, frenzied and distraught. The workings of the mind discover oft Dark deeds in darkness schemed, before the act. More hateful still the miscreant who seeks When caught, to make a virtue of a crime. (474-496)
Creon implies that men are the enforcers of law while women are weak and to be controlled.