Medea vs Antigone Feminism Issue

Topics: Books

This sample essay on Antigone Feminism provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Feminism has always been an intense and debated subject. Many renowned authors have written works in favour of it. Two of them were Euripides and Anouilh, who depicted two strong women, Antigone and Medea. In spite of living in fifth century Greece where women had little or no rights at all, they defied men in power.

By doing this they proved women’s equality to men. In this respect they were both feminists. Both plays show feministic traits and at the same time show anti-feministic ones.

In this essay I will investigate these traits. The main theme in Medea is feminism. Through the character of Medea, Euripides promotes his ideas on feminism to the traditional Greek society. Medea is a strong willed woman. She will do anything to get her will and no man can stop her.

When she still loved Jason she went as far as killing her own kin for him. When Jason later wants to get rid of her and Creon wants to expel her from the country, she does not let them treat her as a helpless puppy and defeat her.

To avenge herself on Jason for betraying her after all she has done for him, and Creon for giving his daughter’s hand in marriage to Jason and wanting to expel Medea, she kills not only Creon and his daughter but also her own two sons, just to make Jason suffer even more.

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She is constantly dominating her situation, using her cleverness and getting exactly what she wants. One example of this is when she says to Creon: “Allow me to remain here just for this one day, so I may consider where to live in my exile.

Thus she persuades him, by playing on his emotions and weaknesses, to let her stay in the country long enough to carry out her plans, although Creon hates her and wants her out of the country as soon as possible. Or when she makes Aegeus swear that he will give her exile. Another example of this is when she makes Jason believe she has no objections to his marriage with Creusa, in order to make Jason let her sons enter the palace to give the bride her present. Jason however is shown to hold almost no power at all throughout the play and cannot do anything to stop Medea from ruining his life and escaping unpunished.

In many ways Medea is masculine. She is fearless in opposing powerful men like Creon and her father. She expresses that she wishes to be treated like a man when she says: “I would very much rather stand three times in front of a battle than bear one child. ” This is also the case when she says “… Or sharpen a sword and thrust it to the heart” She is brutal and cold-hearted. It is not usual of a woman to kill her own brother and children. The chorus in Medea represents the women of the society. The chorus expresses Euripides’ feministic views. They support her and sympathize with her.

They even encourage her to avenge Jason’s infidelity by saying she has the right to do it and continually condemning men who are unfaithful to their women. Although Medea has all these pro-feministic traits, there are characteristics of hers that are not so much in the favour of feminism. Western cultural tradition has helped assure male rule by constantly associating men with reason, objectivity, logic and the like, while women are linked to the body, matter, evil, emotions, an absence of logic and reason and the like. Medea’s behaviour is based on emotions, which is one of the characteristics chauvinists associate women with.

Her actions are the result of her strong emotions. She is a passionate person who follows her heart no matter the consequences. When she betrays her father and kills her brother she is blinded by her love for Jason. Later when she is full of fury and rage as a result of Jason’s disloyalty she thinks of nothing but revenge. In her outrage she kills among others, two innocent children. She shows traces of evil in her lack of sympathy for others and her selfishness. She is not rational. She does not reflect wisely on her actions and acts impulsively.

Why Antigone May Be Considered Feminist

Having these qualities she does not make a good feministic role model. Anouilh did not write Antigone for feministic purposes as Euripides did. Still it is appreciated by many as a contribution to feminism. This is due to Antigone’s strong character. Feminism was a more familiar concept in Anouilh’s time i. e. the twentieth century. Many a person has characterised Antigone as a true feminist. One reason for this is that she does not accept the boundaries the patriarchal society has set for her as a woman. She will not get married just to get some children and be the maid of the house.

She expresses her opinions, even if they are contrary to that of the king, a man. When Creon makes a law that contradicts the divine law that states for all persons to be buried properly, she will not remain silent. More importantly, Creon’s prohibition of Polynices’ burial is against all she values, believes in, and lives for, therefore she will go against it even if it means death. Even as a child Antigone was different from other little girls. She played with water and earth, gave all her money to beggars, ate out of every dish at once and ran in the wind so fast that she fell down.

Since then they have tried to tame her. But now she can be herself for the first time. When trying to talk her out of burying her brother Ismene says: “… it’s all very well for men to believe in ideas and die for them. But you are a girl! ” In answer to that Antigone replies: ” Haven’t I spent my life cursing the fact that I was a girl? ” Ismene is the typical girl, who spends much time on her appearance, is obedient, keeps on reminding Antigone that she cannot do this and that because she is only a girl, and is afraid of what Creon might do to them.

Antigone is the opposite of Ismene. She does not pay attention to her looks, is neither docile nor silent because she is a girl, and is not afraid of Creon; she is brave. When Creon tries to belittle her by saying: “You amuse me. ” Antigone answers: “Oh, no, I don’t. I frighten you… God! Is there anything uglier than a frightened man” This shows that she does not fear him and says whatever she wants to him, and is his equal. But, there are also some of Antigone’s actions that a feminist would not approve of. For example, that she respects her brothers because they are men.

When Creon says: “And later on, when they came home, wearing evening clothes, smoking cigarettes, they would have nothing to do with you; and you thought they were wonderful. ” Antigone replies: “They were boys and I was a girl. ” Antigone knows that her brothers were corrupt, but nevertheless she was in awe of them. Antigone tells Ismene that she has spent her entire life cursing the fact that she was a girl. A feminist would say that she should be proud of being a woman. While both women are strong and brave feminists, they are quite different. Antigone is more good-natured, intelligent, rational and humane.

She does not hurt anyone but herself willingly, and rebels against Creon for a good cause (her brothers and her own honour) she is therefore a heroine. Medea on the other hand is driven by emotion, she is barbaric, brutal, merciless and cold-hearted, and she is irrational and does not think of the consequences of her acts. Medea murders four innocent people just to get revenge for personal reasons, and is therefore a villain. Therefore Antigone makes a better feministic play than Medea, even though Medea was written for feministic reasons and Antigone by Jean Anouilh was written for political reasons and not feministic ones.

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Medea vs Antigone Feminism Issue. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

Medea vs Antigone Feminism Issue
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