In the Greek tragedy Antigone, the playwright Sophocles developed his characters with strongly contrasting personalities. The sisters Antigone and Ismene are foils to each other, in that they are characters with completely opposite personalities. Antigone is strong, stubborn, and stands up for what she believes in, while Ismene is weak, obedient to the law, and very passive. Throughout the play, Antigone and Ismene display their opposing beliefs and personalities.
When introduced in the prologue, the conflict of Polyneices' burial reveals the difference between Antigone's strengths and Ismene's weaknesses. The prologue also distinguishes their contrasting values concerning the laws of the gods and the laws of humans. Creon's law forbidding the burial of her brother uncovers Antigone's courageous, powerful characteristics, and also unmasks her strong belief in the laws of the gods. After hearing of the law, Antigone tells her sister “Ismene, I am going to bury him. Will you come? /… Creon is not strong enough to stand in my way”. (Prologue 31-35). Antigone is well aware of the punishment for defying Creon’s law, but is still willing to suffer the consequences. She believes that divine law overpowers human law, and is not afraid to express her opinion.
Another scene of the play in which Antigone displays her strong and brave personality is Scene 2. After the Sentry leads Antigone to Creon, he asks “Had you heard my proclamation touching this matter?”(Scene II 54). Antigone sarcastically responds by saying “It was public. Could I help hearing it?” (Scene II 55). The tone of voice Antigone uses in this scene suggests that she is not intimidated by Creon. Antigone’s courage triumphs for not only disobeying the king’s law, but also for speaking to him in the manner she did. Antigone
Unlike her sister, Ismene lets her gender and fear of punishment get in her way, causing her to be weak and obedient to the law. When Antigone asks Ismene to...