Antigone and Ismene are the two daughters of King Oedipus and Jocasta. Even though they are sisters by blood, their personalities contrast with each other.
Antigone is a bold and fierce girl who believes in making her own decisions rather than following the orders of others. However, Ismene is a weak character who lacks the courage to stand against the wrong. Ismene is a cowardly girl who believes that women are always submissive to men, but Antigone wants to go against them.
At the beginning of the play, Antigone tells Ismene about Creon’s verdict according to which the body of Polynices will be left unburied in the open. Antigone asks Ismene’s help to bury Polynices. however, Ismene refuses to go against Creon’s order. This shows us the weak nature of Ismene, Moreover, when Antigone asks for Ismene’s help, she replies. “O think, Antigone; we are women; it is not for us to fight against men; our rules are stronger we. And we must obey this”.
Through this, we can the gist of Ismene’s character. She is submissive, and prefers to stay under the domination of the stronger, than fighting back against the wrong. she strongly believes that women are inferior to men, which was very commonly believed in the society at that time. However, Antigone comes out alone to fight against the wrong, which proves that she was ahead of her time.
When Ismene refuses to help Antigone in the act of burial, she becomes angry with Ismene and decides to do the work on her own. Antigone does not fear death and is determined to give her dead brother a proper burial.
Ismene tries to stop her sister from going against the law, that Antigone fails to understand her point. Antigone goes against Crepon’s verdict and buries Polynesis body, This act Antigone is also considered to be foolish by many. Her decision is short lives and is not conducive to longevity. She fails to understand that her aggressive decision would be proven dangerous for both the sisters. Ismene being practical sees the upcoming consequences of her sister’s act, And therefore stops Antigone from doing the work.
When Creon finds out that Antigone has buried Polynices’ body, he orders a death punishment to Antigone. Ismene tries to side with Antigone and asks for the same punishment. we can call Ismene still a coward because she is afraid of being alone after Antigone’s death. However, it is nonetheless a heroic deed from her side.
In the conclusion, we can say that Antigone is fierceness who can go to any extent to fulfill her deed. whereas, Ismene is moe practical and law-fearing woman.