Antigone and Ismene in Sophocles’ Play
Today the play “Antigone” by Sophocles, written hundreds of years ago, is still widely discussed, not in the least due to the masterfully created characters of Antigone and Ismene. The readers see that the sisters love each other, and family means a lot to them from the very beginning. However, this love and mutual respect shape seemingly opposing characters, who are ready for profound sacrifices in the name of the family. The main feature of Antigone’s character in Sophocles is willpower. She is resolute to challenge Creon since for her to bury her brother is a sacred duty, which she is not ready to compromise. Sophocles’ Antigone consciously goes towards death, but, like any person, it is bitter for her to part with a life that promises so many joys to a young girl. Thus the readers see that Antigone is not ‘an iron lady’ but a sensitive person with a loving heart, who acts not out of stubbornness but out of a deep love for her dead brother.
Ismene, the opposite of seemingly belligerent Antigone, is shy and irresolute. First, she tries to dissuade her sister from having her way, not because she does not want to give their brother a decent burial, but out of fear for her sister. Moreover, Ismene is more rational, she provides arguments against Antigone’s decision. However, seeing that Antigone cannot be moved, Ismene blesses her to bury their brother. In doing so, she says, “ remember, no matter how foolish your deeds, those who love you will love you still” (Sophocles, 2008, p. 24). Here again, the readers see deep love as a dominant force which makes Ismene accept Antigone’s choice though it means certain death for her beloved sister. Later Ismene asks Antigone to let her die with her. Thus, Ismene’s loyalty and that of her sister stand above death and is, in fact, opposed to it.
Sophocles. Antigone. ReadHowYouWant. com, 2008. Web.