What happens to Ismene at the end of Antigone? Her fate is a bit unclear.

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MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I often receive this question from my own students upon our reading of Antigone. I think as modern audiences we are accustomed to all characters finding some resolution at the end of a story. But this is a story of Antigone, not Ismene, and Sophocles may have felt it unnecessary to explain Ismene's future. However, if one reads the trilogy together, Ismene's role becomes clearer, and that may prompt some to wonder of her fate.

Some stories exist of a love affair that ends in Ismene's death, but they are not accepted into the canon of this particular family's story line. Instead, most agree that Ismene lived the rest of her life alone, carrying the knowledge of her family's curse. She must also carry the weight of her own indecision, which led to Antigone's death. Thus, while the other members of the family found some solace in their demise, Ismene continues her torture in life.