Ismene in Sophocles’ Antigone and Anouilh’s Antigone: a study in loyalty and her usefulness as a character Sophocles’ Antigone is a well-known Greek play, and Anouilh’s Antigone is a modern twentieth-century adaptation of it. Both deal with the aftermath of Antigone’s choice to go bury her brother Polyneices even though the king, Creon, has expressly forbidden the burial of the traitor brother. Antigone and Creon are of course the central characters, but Ismene, Antigone’s sister, is important in her own way: she is the barrier between Creon and Antigone, and presents the moral and emotional dilemma many of us deal with when reading the play Antigone. She is the one who does not want to go against the king, but wants to stand by her sister at the same time. Does this make her an indecisive character who does not know where her loyalty lies? Yes and no. Does it mean that Ismene’s character is unnecessary in the play and can thus be easily removed? This is also debatable but it is a valid question. In this essay, I will explore the character of Ismene’s loyalty in Sophocles’ version of Antigone and Anouilh’s modern adaptation of the same play. I will compare the depth of her loyalty to Antigone and Creon (family and law) in both plays to see if they are differing or similar, and based on that conclusion, I will look at her disposability as a character in both plays to find out if she is necessary as a character.
First, we will look at Ismene in Sophocles’ Antigone. This is