What new sufferings must Antigone and Ismene endure?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the drama opens, Antigone and Ismene must endure new sufferings that most cannot even comprehend.  When both meet at the start of the drama, they seem to be still processing the condition of their father, Oedipus.  His own suffering at having killed their grandfather, his father, and marrying his mother is inconceivable and something that both girls are struggling with, themselves.   Antigone's opening lines speak to this condition, one in which there is a great amount of suffering "among" her shared sorrows with her sister's.

Adding to this is the death of their two brothers, Polyneices and Eteocles.  Both sisters are struck with grief at losing them.  This becomes a new level of suffering that both of them must endure.  While they live, Antigone raises the other issue that causes great pain to them both, adding to their sorrows.  Creon's edict that forbids a proper burial for Polyneices.  Creon's "dishonor" of their brother is an added burden of suffering that Antigone feels both of them must share.  Sharing in the "labor and deed" of honoring their brother is where a new level of suffering emerges.  This becomes the crux of the drama, a point in which Antigone feels that she has borne enough suffering and must actively resist in adding another layer to her condition of pain and hurt.

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