Foil – characters who have contrasting or opposite qualities.
In the play Antigone by Sophocles, Ismene is shown to be in great contrast to Antigone, who is her sister. She is portrayed as a gentle and passive while Antigone is depicted as an aggressive and headstrong woman. In the prologue, Antigone and Ismene are shown discussing what has transpired since their leave and subsequent return to Thebes. In this scene Antigone asks her sister in line 6-7 “have they told you of the new decree by our King Creon?” which Ismene then responds that “I have learned nothing. I know that two sisters lost two brothers, a double death in a single hour, and I know that the Argive army fled in the night; but beyond this, nothing” (Sophocles 0:7-9). In this Ismene is show to be not very well informed and “out of the fold” while Antigone seems to know in detail all that has occurred and all that has yet to occur as seen when she replies to Ismene that “Creon buried our brother Eteocles with military honors, gave him a soldier’s funeral, and it was right that he should; but Polyneices, who fought as bravely and dies as miserably – they say that Creon has sworn no one shall bury him, no one mourn for him, but his body must lie in the fields, a sweet treasure for carrion birds to find as they search for food. That is what they say, and our good Creon is coming here to announce it publicly; and the penalty – stoning to death in the public square! There it is, and now you can prove what you are: A true sister or a traitor to your family” (Sophocles 0:15-27).
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