Male Reactions to Female Power in Antigone

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Western society has a long history of subjugating women to men. Some cite the idea that women are somehow weaker or inferior to men as a reason for the existence of this social dynamic. In Sophocles's Antigone and, Dürrenmatt's The Visit, however, the female leads show great strength and are even able to threaten the male leads with their power. Creon and Alfred Ill's disdainful and oppressive treatment of women stems not from the supposed inferiority of women, but from the theme that man is afraid to lose control. This theme is developed through particular events in the plot: the men begin in positions of power, which are then threatened by the women. Their amateur reactions to the powerful women cause them to lose more control until in…show more content…
The people of Guellen, spurred on partially by their disgust of Ill's actions and partially by Claire's offer of money, decide to retract their support of Ill “becoming Mayor” (Dürrenmatt 54). Claire's offer hangs darkly over the town, bringing the Guelleners closer and closer to Ill's destruction. Even Ill's family falls to Claire's temptation, purchasing expensive items and “making debts” (Dürrenmatt 78) though they know that the only way to repay their debts is through Ill's death. The people who had once laid all their hopes upon Ill turn against him when faced with the enormity of Claire's power. Interestingly, the female threats to male power are depicted in opposite manners. Antigone acts as a force of good, but Dürrenmatt portrays Claire's power as antagonistic. The difference lies in the source of their power. Antigone's strength derives from her moral fortitude and love of the gods and her “dearest brother” (Sophocles 167). Claire wields power because she can buy it. In other words, Antigone appeals to the superego of her peers, inspiring others to reach beyond their capacity. She sought to “fight with men” (Sophocles 167) despite being a woman, hoping others would overlook her sex in favor of her good morals. Claire, on the other hand, appeals to the id of the people of Guellen, preying on their economic vulnerability and desperation to coerce them into committing murder. In fact, her desire for
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