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Ismene tells her sister Antigone, "We are only women." Antigone has revealed to her sister that she plans to bury the body of their brother Polyneices, and she wants to know if Ismene will help her. Antigone believes that it is the right thing to follow the laws of the gods, and she wants to honor the life of her brother by burying him. Ismene, on the other hand, believes that it is more important to follow the laws of men, and she does not want to get into trouble and be punished for burying the body. Creon has ordered that the body remain in the street for carrion to take it away, and he says that anyone who tries to move it will be executed. Ismene tells her sister that "we are only women" because she is following the traditional social order of their culture--men make the laws and women do not have the right or power to challenge these laws. The line is significant because it sets the line of conflict in the play--to follow the laws of the gods or of men.
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