Antigone: Portrayal Of Women

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In Sophocles’ and Anouilh’s versions of Antigone, the playwrights have very strict guidelines when portraying their female characters. This portrayal is supported through the reversal of gender roles, as well as stereotypical appearances of women. Through the breaking of gender stereotypes and the failure to abide by gender law, the characters in both versions of Antigone succumb to the temptation of suicide. By examining the characters in each play, it is clear that those who follow gender laws and have pleasing appearances are given choice over their fate, and those that do not must die, their death allowing them to achieve the concept of true beauty. Those that break assigned gender laws will have no choice but to submit to an inevitable death. Physical appearances also play an important role, as they allow the aesthetically appealing characters to choose their own end, be it life or death while the rebels to gender roles must suffer, and become recognized for their true beauty only in death. Gender laws are very specific, and a common way to break through them is by reversing gender roles. Antigone is masculine, having the inner strength and willpower to go against male law. This is an undesirable trait in a woman for the men of Antigone. To emphasize her bold character, Antigone says, “Why should you do that? To see me cry? To hear me beg for mercy? And swear whatever you wish, and then begin all over again?”(Anouilh, 48). The presence of her masculinity implies that only masculine characters can oppose law. Because she is an undesirable female, who doesn’t follow the rules of womanhood, Anouilh resolves the presence of her character through an inevitable death, to emphasize his contempt with such women. Although male, Haemon portrays female characteristics, being over-emotional and rash, thus being incapable of fulfilling the idealistic male role. An
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