Eteocles and Polyneices, both brothers of Antigone and Ismene, fought opposite each other for the throne in the Thebes’ civil war and were both killed. Consequently, the new ruler of Thebes, Creon, decreed that Eteocles be given a place of honor whereas Polyneices be held in…
Antigone tells Ismene that she wants her brother given a proper burial despite Creon’s decree. For Antigone family honor and the responsibilities that go along with it are much more important than the order of the ruler, Creon. Ismene, upon hearing her sister’s plans, tells Antigone that she would not go against the edict of Creon. For Ismene family considerations are not so important, rather it is the edict of the ruler that she would rather obey. As she puts it, both of them are women and are required not only to be subservient to the ruler, but also to men; they should not try to hold their own against these two authorities. Ismene states that it is their duty as women not only to obey Creon’s edict regarding their brother, but also any other decree that might be even more oppressive. Hearing this distresses Antigone a great deal. She feels it is her responsibility, as a sister to Polyneices, to afford him a burial at least. Antigone feels that Ismene is not true to her familial calling, and she feels disgust at the latter’s opinion on the matter. Antigone does not believe that her status as a woman, or as a subject of Creon, should stop her from fulfilling the duty that she owes her brother. She is so repulsed upon hearing her sister’s views on this matter that she tells her that after hearing her views on the matter, she would not want Ismene to come and help her bury their brother, Polyneices, even if Ismene wanted to do it. This plainly shows how deeply ingrained the idea of familial obligation is in Antigone, and how appalled she is that her own sister would rather obey the law than fulfill the duty she owes her ...
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