The Role of Gender in Antigone and “Genesis”

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The Role of Gender in Antigone and “Genesis”

Gender inequality has been a prevalent issue in society through many centuries. Modern arguments about appropriate gender roles often cite traditional texts. Many use Sophocles’ Antigone and the creation myth in “Genesis” to defend or attack gender dominance. Antigone and “Genesis” contain a complicated view of women’s liberation and subordination. Through recognizing the role of gender in Antigone and “Genesis”, both authors reveal that even though women were presumed to subservient to men during these time periods, there were authors who did not agree with the limitations put on women.

Antigone has two main female characters, Antigone and Ismene. Even though Antigone and Ismene are sisters, Sophocles presents the women in two very different ways. Antigone is an individual. She is independent, strong-willed, and courageous. Antigone is not limited by the boundaries put on women by society. Ismene, on the other hand, conforms to how society perceives women. She remains loyal and passive to men because she is frightened by the potential consequences of disobeying a man. Antigone says to Ismene, “You chose to live, I chose to die” (626). Antigone stands up for what she believes is right and is willing to die, but Ismene wants to follow the rules of man and chooses to live rather than face death by going against King Creon.

Antigone’s characteristics are her strength, but Ismene’s character traits are her weakness. Antigone’s qualities are what give her the motivation to provide her brother the honor he deserved regardless of the King’s law. Antigone states, “And even if I die in the act, that act will be a death of glory” (86). A traditional woman of the time, such as Ismene, would have accepted the law and would not have gone against the King. Since Antigone is bold and headstrong, she is able to overcome the stereotype of a typical woman by sacrificing everything in order to pursue what she believed was just....
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