Does Antigone in any way breach the female sphere, as well?  If so, do you think this conflict between the female and male spheres is reconciled in the person of Antigone? 

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sophocles' Antigone is the third of the Theban Oedipus trilogy, and it reveals the first great feminist character caught publicly in a masculine power structure and privately trying fill a tragic hero void left in her family.

I think Antigone wanted to be both like her father (Oedipus) publicly and mother (Jocasta) privately in her conflict with Creon.  She wanted the nobility of public suffering that is afforded Oedipus by the end of his tragedy, but she doesn't get it: she is taken off the stage and put in a cave.  She loses her voice completely.  As a result, she refuses to suffer silently and resorts to the death wish that her mother's suicide affords.  In this way, she enables Creon to become a tragic hero as well, an even more analogous tragic hero to Oedipus (since he does not commit suicide) than her.

Antigone moves through the ethical stage publicly: she buries her brother and denounces Creon's capital punishment law.  But she has trouble in the private religious stage, in which she must suffer by being imprisoned in a cave (becoming a political prisoner).  She cannot tolerate the solitude and exile that suffering in the religious stage mandates.  In short, she publicly acts like a man (showing the anger of her father) to her sister and uncle, but privately she grieves like a woman (the way her mother did).

In this way, she is caught between the male and female spheres and the ethical and religious spehers as well.