Antigone Personal Response – Montana

Antigone was quite the shift for me from Oedipus. This change in tone and the sudden air of seriousness caught me slightly off-guard while reading Antigone. I caught myself approaching it differently, which I thought to be quite interesting. Even with this personal response, I oddly find it much more difficult to write. I truly think that the content of Antigone is much richer and requires lots of thought before you can fully understand it. What made me enjoy Antigone was the powerful lines and stanzas scattered throughout the play, and the two major points I thought were the most important within these lines were the social commentary on the patriarchy and the criticism of power.

Throughout Antigone, various characters make comments on women, about how they are inferior, and other misogynistic views from its time. Ismene comments to her sister, “Remember we are women, we’re not born to contend with men.” (pg. 62). The theme in this quote, which is presented very early, really shows off Antigone’s position in this world. It tells us just the start of what she’ll need to face in the story. This continues later when Creon refuses to succumb to Antigone, “Better to fall from power, if fall we must, at the hands of man–never be rated inferior to a woman, never” (pg. 94). This quote is certainly for the audience, as we come to understand Creon’s character better. We also sympathize with Antigone, as the question is raised; If Antigone was born a man, would Creon ignore her crime, and in turn prevent the tragedies that ensue? The answer is unclear, but the question is fair.

More questions can be raised on other impactful lines, despite the different topics. One of the big themes I picked up on in Antigone was the discussion of power. Antigone’s two brothers fought for it, Antigone herself refused to acknowledge the king’s authority and laws, and we just covered the power of men over women. The power of money was very directly called out in Antigone in the following stanza.

Money! Nothing worse in our lives, so current, rampant, so corrupting. Money– you demolish cities, root men from their homes, you train and twist good minds and set them on to the most atrocious schemes. No limit, you make them adept at every kind of outrage, every godless crime– money! (pg.73)

While reading this, it was instantly put in my notes to look at again during class discussion. It was so shockingly relevant to me that I almost didn’t want to believe it was written so long ago. It goes along with another quote which follows it soon after, “Lucky tyrants–the perquisites of power! Ruthless power to do and say whatever pleases them.” (pg. 84). Once again, we see this view of power being given to humanity and becoming corruptive. We see it all around us today, and even then, in Ancient Greece. Despite the thousands of years that have passed, power remains a constantly corruptive element to humans. And that amazed me.

We like to think that we’ve grown since “ancient times”, that we’re more mature, better than then, but we’re not (at least not as much as we like to think we are). This has been a lesson I’ve been learning while reading Oedipus and Antigone. While we’ve mostly moved past blatant sexism, you start to realize how much personal bias people have against women, and since they can’t be loud about these misogynistic feelings they act out in microaggressions against the female sex, which I’m sure most girls in this class have experienced, including me. In terms of greater history, women’s rights are still incredibly new and continue to be fought for today, take the current situation in Iran as an example. And this same concept still applies to power. Power and money still create unethical people, we still have those same “Lucky tyrants” that Antigone calls out. It’s a pattern that makes us wonder, will it ever get better? I guess we’ll have to see.