Liminality Of Gender In SophoclesAntigone

Decent Essays

In Sophocles’ Antigone, the title character’s gender creates the capacity for liminality. Not fully demonstrating masculine or feminine normative action, Antigone perplexes those around her and even loses her own logic. Caught between her duty to the realms of the personal and the political, Antigone exhibits liminality of gender through her emasculating interaction with Kreon in juxtaposition with the feminine necessity of her actions. As a woman, Antigone upholds her normative feminine funerary duties in burying her brother, Polyneikes, showing her dedication to the realm of the personal. Antigone claims to gain glory from the act of giving Polyneikes his due funeral rites. She aptly asks Kreon, “What greater glory could I have gained than by / properly burying my own true brother?” (552-554). Antigone argues that her honor as a non-citizen and as an unmarried woman stems only from the honor bestowed upon her direct, male relations, a group that includes the traitor Polyneikes. Under usual circumstances, if Kreon had not earlier declared death upon anyone who buried Polyneikes’ body, Antigone and her sister, Ismene, would be expected to perform funeral rites, as this is a female duty. This means of gaining feminine glory becomes clouded when Kreon, another of Antigone’s kinsmen, forbids the very act of normative, performative femininity expected of Theban women. Conversely, Antigone is aware of her place in society in that she acknowledges that burying her brother

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