Antigone’s Law: a Critique of Patriarchal Power Structures

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Antigone’s Law: A Critique of Patriarchal Power Structures

The heroine Antigone sacrifices her life to defy the patriarchal society in which she is imprisoned. By confronting and resisting Creon’s authoritarian rule, Antigone empowers the oppressed people of Thebes. On the surface, her motives seem clear; she defies civil law in favor of a higher moral law. Antigone declares she acts out of a sense of honor and obedience to the gods, however her words and actions reveal additional motives. Antigone follows her own unique law, which is a mixture of her commitment to divine law and her desire for glory, love, death, and liberation. Her willingness to challenge authority makes her a heroic figure as she has the courage to
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The pleasure principle seems to serve as the death instinct” (Freud, 1920, p.77). Antigone experiences Freud’s “beyond the pleasure principle”, or the passions of the unconscious. The death drive is a notion wherein the subject constantly aims towards destruction and annihilation of the self. As her pleasures are directed towards her dead brother, Antigone manifests the death instinct (Braunstein, 2012). Antigone first demonstrates feminist logic when she decides to challenge a powerful male establishment: the societal order within which women are subservient to men. Antigone defies the classic hero prototype in many ways. Braunstein notes that in Ancient Greece, there were very few moments where women acted the part of the male hero. A woman’s role was to mourn the hero after he was killed, not to exhibit masculine characteristics such as defiance, strength, and courage (Braunstein, 2012). Antigone is active, strong, heroic, and determined, whereas her sister Ismene is portrayed as passive, weak, cowardly, and unable to make decisions. Ismene believes she holds an inferior position in relation to the power of the king and the power of men; “Remember we are women, we’re not born to contend with men. Then too, we’re underlings, ruled by much stronger hands, so we must submit in this, and things still worse” (Sophocles, 1984, p. 62). Antigone’s actions are heroic as she boldly challenges the traditional role of women, and offers hope of
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