Character Analysis of Ismene in Antigone

download print

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 650 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Words: 650|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Background and Introduction to Ismene
  2. Ismene's Obedience to Authority
  3. Ismene's Fear of Consequences
  4. Implications of Ismene's Character Traits
  5. Conclusion

Throughout Sophocles' play Antigone, the character of Ismene serves as a foil to her sister, Antigone. Ismene's character traits, such as her obedience to authority and her fear of consequences, highlight the contrasting qualities of Antigone's determination and rebellion. This essay will explore Ismene's character traits and their implications in the play, ultimately highlighting the significance of her role as a contrasting figure to Antigone.

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

Background and Introduction to Ismene

Ismene, the sister of Antigone, is introduced in the play as a timid and obedient character. She is portrayed as someone who values order and stability, often prioritizing the laws of the state over familial duty. Ismene's character traits become evident from her initial conversation with Antigone, where she expresses her fear and reluctance to join her sister in burying their brother Polynices.

Despite her initial hesitation, Ismene's character development progresses as the play unfolds. She begins to question her loyalty to the state and her role as a woman in society. These moments of growth and self-reflection allow the audience to gain a deeper understanding of Ismene's character and her place in the larger themes of the play.

Ismene's Obedience to Authority

One of Ismene's prominent character traits is her obedience to authority. She believes in following the laws and rules set forth by the city, even if they conflict with her personal desires or familial obligations. This can be seen when she refuses to assist Antigone in burying their brother, fearing the consequences of defying the king's decree.

Her obedience to authority is further highlighted when she tells Antigone, "We are only women, we cannot fight with men, Antigone!" (Sophocles, 87). Ismene's statement reveals her belief in the traditional gender roles and societal norms that restrict women's agency and power. She sees herself as powerless and incapable of challenging the authority of men.

Ismene's Fear of Consequences

In addition to her obedience to authority, Ismene's character is defined by her fear of consequences. She is deeply concerned about the potential repercussions of defying the king's decree, fearing not only for her own life but also for the safety of her sister.

This fear is evident when Ismene pleads with Antigone, stating, "Think how much more terrible than these our own death would be if we should go against Creon and do what he has forbidden!" (Sophocles, 88). Ismene's fear stems from her understanding of the consequences of disobedience and her desire to avoid any harm that may befall her and her loved ones.

Furthermore, Ismene's fear is a reflection of her lack of confidence and her reliance on the stability provided by societal norms. She values safety and security over personal freedom and moral convictions, which distinguishes her from Antigone, who is willing to risk everything for what she believes is right.

Implications of Ismene's Character Traits

Ismene's character traits of obedience to authority and fear of consequences serve to contrast Antigone's unwavering determination and rebellion against unjust laws. Ismene's role as a foil highlights the courage and strength of Antigone's character, emphasizing the moral conflict at the heart of the play.

Moreover, Ismene's character provides a lens through which the audience can examine the societal expectations and restrictions placed on women in ancient Greek society. Her obedience and fear reflect the limited agency and power granted to women, further accentuating Antigone's defiance and the importance of challenging oppressive systems.


In conclusion, Ismene's character traits in the play Antigone serve as a contrasting element to her sister Antigone. Her obedience to authority and fear of consequences highlight the contrasting qualities of Antigone's determination and rebellion. Ismene's character development throughout the play allows the audience to explore the themes of gender roles, societal expectations, and the moral conflict central to the play. By examining Ismene's character traits, we gain a deeper understanding of the significance of her role in highlighting the complexities of the play's themes and the contrasting qualities of the two sisters.

Works Cited

Get a custom paper now from our expert writers.

Sophocles. Antigone. Translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics, 1984.

Image of Dr. Charlotte Jacobson
This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Character Analysis of Ismene in Antigone. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
“Character Analysis of Ismene in Antigone.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
Character Analysis of Ismene in Antigone. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
Character Analysis of Ismene in Antigone [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from:
Keep in mind: This sample was shared by another student.
  • 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help
  • Custom essay delivered in as few as 3 hours
Write my essay

Still can’t find what you need?

Browse our vast selection of original essay samples, each expertly formatted and styled


Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Get Your
    Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!

    We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!
    • Instructions Followed To The Letter
    • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
    • Unique And Plagiarism Free
    Order your paper now