The Safeguard of Silence: Un-Heroic Resistance in Sophocles' Antigone
40 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 6 Apr 2010
Date Written: December 1, 2009
Most contemporary political theorists have interpreted Sophocles’ Antigone by focusing on the fearsome clash between Antigone and Creon. The relationship between Antigone and her weaker, more cautious sister Ismene has not garnered similar attention. This paper addresses this gap by revisiting the tantalizing possibility that Ismene played a more significant role in resisting Creon than has often been assumed. The paper shifts the analysis of Antigone, first, by illuminating the complex and fraught relationship between two women and emphasizing the political and legal challenges that they face together as women. Second, the paper shifts focus from vertical power relations - that is, between the individual and government - to horizontal power relations between disempowered outsiders. On this reading, Antigone reveals less about the downfall of a character and more about the political power of the weak and disadvantaged.
Keywords: Sophocles, power, resistance, feminist theory
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