Weak Woman Becomes Strong – Antigone’s Sister

The 1950’s, when the men worked and the women cooked and took care of children, the perfect time, NOT! The women of the 1950’s are a lot like Ismene at the beginning of the play Antigone, she is the ideal,

domestic, Greek woman who believes that women are weak against men. She however finds her inner courage and speaks up like the women of the 1960’s. Ismene believes that women are weak against men, argues with her sister, and then she changes her mind and stands up for her beliefs.

“I am not disrespecting them. But I can’t act against the state. That is not in my nature,” declares Ismene. (Prologue.96-97) Ismene acts like a traditional Greek homemaker. Traditional Greek women stay at home, bring up the children, and prepare dinner. They are not even allowed to eat dinner with their husbands. Ismene follows those beliefs by telling Antigone that she cannot act against the state, because it is not in her nature and that women are weak against men.

Ismene and Antigone are a lot like my sister and I, complete opposites, and always arguing. “A vain attempt should not be made at all,” argues Ismene. (Prologue.112) “I will hate you if you are going to talk that way,” wails Antigone. (Prologue.114) Ismene is arguing that Antigone should not try to bury Polyneices’ corpse against Creon’s wishes. Antigone decides to bury his body anyway, and tells Ismene to tell anyone she wants.

“You are my sister. Do not dishonor me. Let me respect the dead and die with you,” Ismene cries. (Episode 1.623) Ismene speaks up like the women of the 1960’s and says she will take the punishment and die with her sister. Antigone will not let Ismene take the blame for something she did not do, and spares her sister even though Ismene says she will have no one left to love.

Ismene turns out to be strong and even though she was weak in the beginning, she finds courage. Ismene is not much of a main character, but she is important none the less.