Foil and Parallel Characters in Oedipus the King and Antigone

Topics: Oedipus, Oedipus the King, Sophocles Pages: 2 (718 words) Published: September 22, 2008
In the play Oedipus the King and Antigone by Sophocles, foil and parallel characters are very common. The foil character in a story is the character who is the exact opposite of the main character, or in other word, the parallel character, and therefor serves to magnify certain characteristics of the main character. Such characters for example could be Ismene, the foil character and Antigone, the parallel character. Ismene is cowardly and prefer to follow the rules, while Antigone is much more brave and prefer to break the rules for her family. The characters posses a multitude of traits, and for that they can be recognized as a parallel character or as a foil character.

In both plays we see many characteristic behaviors that isolate each character individually as a foil or a parallel character. Such characteristic behaviors can be found between Antigone and Ismene from the play Antigone by Sophocles. Antigone shows strong parallel characteristic behavior after her father, Oedipus died. Antigone goes so far as to ask why she could not join him, whereas Ismene selfishly replies, "O pity! What is left for me?" (v, 1715). Not once does Antigone hesitate about her sense of duty to her father; Ismene, on the other hand, does not seem as unswerving. Another another strong and clear example of the differences between the characteristic of foil and parallel character between Ismene and Antigone could be found when Antigone determined to give her brother, Polyneices, a decent burial. Dedicated to "[serving] the children of her mother's womb" (line 512), she consciously risks her life with this action, which violates Creon's unjust decree. Ismene shows strong foil characteristic behavior when she prefer to follow the rules then sacrifice her life to give her brother a decent burial. Sophocles' play, Oedipus the King have many parallel and foil characters that mirrored and oppose each other as well.

Furthermore, foil and parallel characters can be found in...
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