Contrast Antigone and Ismene

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About this sample


Words: 538 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 25, 2024

Words: 538|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 25, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraphs
  3. Counterarguments
  4. Conclusion
  5. References


Sophocles' Antigone is a timeless tragedy that explores themes of loyalty, morality, and the individual's role in society. The play's two central female characters, Antigone and Ismene, offer a fascinating study in contrast, as they embody divergent moral choices and approaches to sisterhood. This essay examines the contrasting characterizations of Antigone and Ismene, focusing on their moral decisions, their approaches to authority, and their perspectives on sisterhood.

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Body Paragraphs

Antigone and Ismene are faced with a moral dilemma following the death of their brother, Polynices. The new king, Creon, has decreed that Polynices is to be denied a proper burial, a decision that violates divine law and tradition. Antigone, driven by her commitment to divine law and familial piety, chooses to defy Creon's decree and bury her brother. Ismene, on the other hand, chooses to abide by human law and obey Creon's edict, fearing the consequences of disobedience (Sophocles, 441 BCE).

Antigone's and Ismene's contrasting approaches to authority are evident in their responses to Creon's decree. Antigone, driven by her unwavering commitment to divine law, openly defies Creon, asserting that his authority is not absolute and that unjust laws must be challenged. Ismene, however, adopts a more compliant stance, arguing that they, as women, must submit to the authority of the king and accept the decree, even if it goes against their personal beliefs (Sophocles, 441 BCE).

The contrast between Antigone and Ismene is further highlighted in their perspectives on sisterhood. Antigone's loyalty to her brother and her commitment to familial piety are unwavering, even in the face of death. Ismene, on the other hand, is more cautious, prioritizing her own survival and arguing that their brother's fate is beyond their control. This contrast raises questions about the nature of sisterhood and the extent to which familial ties should dictate one's actions (Sophocles, 441 BCE).


While Antigone is often celebrated for her courage and moral conviction, some critics argue that her actions are reckless and self-righteous, ultimately leading to her own demise and the suffering of those around her. Ismene, on the other hand, is often criticized for her apparent cowardice and lack of conviction. However, a closer examination of Ismene's character reveals a more complex figure, one who is deeply conflicted and grappling with her own moral dilemmas.

Moreover, it can be argued that Ismene's caution and pragmatism are not signs of weakness but rather a reflection of her understanding of the political realities of their situation. Ismene's decision to prioritize her own survival can be seen as a strategic choice, one that allows her to potentially advocate for her sister and brother in the future.


In conclusion, the contrasting characterizations of Antigone and Ismene offer a rich and nuanced exploration of sisterhood, moral decision-making, and the individual's role in society. By examining their divergent moral choices, approaches to authority, and perspectives on sisterhood, we gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of human nature and the moral dilemmas that shape our lives. Future research could explore the relevance of these themes in contemporary society, examining how the lessons from Antigone and Ismene's story can inform our understanding of sisterhood, moral courage, and the role of the individual in challenging unjust authority.

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Sophocles. (441 BCE). Antigone. (R. C. Jebb, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Contrast Antigone And Ismene. (2024, March 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
“Contrast Antigone And Ismene.” GradesFixer, 25 Mar. 2024,
Contrast Antigone And Ismene. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2024].
Contrast Antigone And Ismene [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 25 [cited 2024 Apr 20]. Available from:
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