Homework Help

Is Antigone's main motive for burying her brother to take a stand against the social/...

user profile pic

valiantreader249 | Student, Grade 10 | Honors

Posted October 9, 2012 at 11:44 PM via web

dislike 1 like

Is Antigone's main motive for burying her brother to take a stand against the social/ political postion of women in Athens, rather than to obey the gods?

Antigone says that she does not want to disobey the ultimate law of the gods by not buring her brother.  Yet, it seems that part of her reason deals with her pride, and her resentment towards the way women are treated in Athens.

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:49 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 2 like

My understanding of the play has always been that Antigone's prime motivation in burying her brother Polynieces was in order to observe the religious obligation to bury the dead.  We see this in several quotations, all near the beginning of the play.

1. ANTIGONE: Eteocles, [the other brother] they say, has had his      burial according to our customary rites, to win him honour with the dead below.  This implies that Antigone wants to bury the other brother, Polynieces, so that he too may have the "customary rites."

 

2. ANTIGONE: I’ll do my duty to my brother—


3. ANTIGONE: [Adressing her sister, who is reluctant to help her bury Polynieces] As for you,
          well, if you wish, you can show contempt
          for those laws the gods all hold in honour.


Still, there is room to argue that Antigone was somewhat of a women's liberationist.  Her sister argues that it is not right for women to disobey the command of men:

We must remember that by birth we’re women,
          and, as such, we shouldn’t fight with men.

By opposing this claim, Antigone shows that she is willing to disobey men.  Although I do not see this as her primary motivation, it is true that Antigone does take a stand against the social/ political postion of women in Athens.

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes