I am trying to deciper the relationship between Ismene and Antigone. Is it a contrast between Realism and Idealism? and if so, explaine.I want write a commentary on how more realistic Ismenes "life...

I am trying to deciper the relationship between Ismene and Antigone. Is it a contrast between Realism and Idealism? and if so, explaine.

I want write a commentary on how more realistic Ismenes "life preserving" response to her brothers burial is, compared to Antigone's idealistic "moral" response. Would appreciate any help, I have a hard time keeping on track.

Asked on by mezzaine

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think you are on the right track in identifying how both sisters represent polarities of experience.  I am a bit leery of labeling them in the "realism" vs. "idealism" mode because I think it implies more than what is being targeted.  Perhaps, we can reconfigure the sisters' relationship as Ismene being one who sees consciousness as it is and Antigone, who sees it as it should be or ought to be.  The difference between them becomes how one perceives reality.  Should reality be lived as what it presents itself or is consciousness one where transformation of status quo defines its essence?  This might be where both sisters are.  Ismene is the sister who believes in the rule of both legal and social conceptions of the good.  She is lucid in her belief that Antigone neednt challenge Creon's law because A) it is codified law according to the Status Quo power structure and B) it is not in the nature of women to question authority.  Antigone, naturally, is the opposite, appealing to the idea of a "higher" sense of law and justice.  In the interplay between them, one sees how what is collides with what should be.  This is not to say that Ismene is placid and an automaton to reality and not to place Antigone on a pedestal of virtue.  I don't think it's an accident that when Antigone is punished, Ismene is willing to share in the punishment. Antigone denies this as she denies any notion of bond between the sisters as a result of her own belief system.  Bearing this in mind, one sees that the supposed "apologist" for the status quo might actually bear more loyalty to her kin that the supposed "crusader," who repudiates the bond between them.  I think it's important, when analyzing both, to stress that it might not be accidental that Sophocles designs both characters in such a manner.

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