In Antigone, scene 4, is Antigone's speech consistent with what she has argued previously?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Episode 4 is often considered puzzling by critics attempting to assess the character of Antigone. The main puzzle is the emphasis on marriage. In her earlier quarrel with Ismene, Antigone has reacted quite scornfully to Ismene`s concern that burying their brother would ruin their marriage prospects. In fact, Antigone, in defending her actions, argues that husbands and children can be replaced, but because of their family situation, they will neve have more brothers, and thus loyalty to brothers trumps consideration of future marriage and children.

What is consistent, both within the play, and between Antigone`s beliefs and popular Greek morality, is the notion that the function of women in religious ritual as well as private life is to maintain the integrity of family. The conflict in the play for Antigone is that one type of family loyalty (to her brother) is opposed to another (to a future husband), and thus she cannot act in a manner which sustains familial bonds because the curse of the Theban house has fractured the family itself beyond all possibility of repair. It is only by resolution of the curse and reconciliation of the gods to Thebes that the family is to be made whole again, and that will not happen in Antigone`s lifetime.

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