Male-dominated societies have existed for ages. Sophocles' work Antigone illustrates women in the ancient Greek society as capable and strong mannered with the ability of making wise, and often more moral, decisions. Antigone is the main character who breaks both ancient and contemporary stereotypes of weak and subordinate positions in society. Antigone is willing to sacrifice her own life rebelling against the patriarchal society in which she is captive to provide a proper burial for her brother. Antigone's role as a woman and the relationships she has with many characters affects the play by not only representing feminism and the struggle between men and women, but by upsetting gender roles and the hierarchy of ancient society.
The first words spoken by Antigone and the first words in the play demonstrate the vivid danger that Antigone is capable of imposing on other characters in the play, especially Creon:.
My own flesh and blood-dear sister, dear Ismene, how many griefs our father Oedipus handed down! Do you know one, I ask you, one grief that Zeus will not perfect for the two of us while we still live and breathe? There's nothing, no pain-our lives are pain-no private shame, no public disgrace, nothing I haven't seen in your grief and mine. (1–8).
Antigone is referring to the familial grief that seems to be "handed down" from her father (Oedipus) to his son, her brother (Polynices). Antigone is a powerful woman who cites her own experiences of suffering as a basis for her power. She admits that she has nothing to lose by speaking against Creon, and that Creon will only bring the next grief to her family:.
"Why not? Our own brothers' burial! Hasn't Creon graced one with all the rites, disgraced the other? Eteocles, they say, has been given full military honors, rightly so-Creon has laid him in the earth and he goes with glory down among the dead. But the body of Polynices, who died miserably- why, a city-wide proclamation, rumor has it, forbids anyone to bury him, even mourn him.