Ismene: A Secondary Character Analysis Essay Example

“Ismene: They mean a great deal to me: but I have no strength to break laws that were made for the public good .”(P.62-63) Ismene is one of the 4 children of King Oedipus and Jocasta.  King Oedipus and Jocasta King Oedipus and Jocasta  have both died, and Ismene’s brothers Eteocles and Polyneices have killed each other during war. Ismene is now only left with her sister Antigone. The author of Antigone used the character Ismene’s loyalty,reasonable thinking to describe how she interacts, her actions, and how she shows her personality towards others to show who she really is. 

Ismene’s actions throughout Antigone show how she uses reasonable thinking to cope with the one’s around her.  Her reasonable thinking is shown by how she came to her to try to help her sister even though it disobeying the law. In the Prologue lines 48-52 it says “ISMENE: We cannot fight with men, Antigone! The law is strong, we must give in to the law in this thing, and in worse. I beg the dead to forgive me, but I am helpless: I must yield to those in authority.” (P.48-52). In the evidence provided above Ismene is showing how she is wants to protect Antigone and even though she wants to be with her sister in this she doesn’t want to them to be left to die.  Ismene says no to Antigone’s wild plan  shows reasonable thinking.

According to  Prologue lines 54-56 ANTIGONE: If that is what you think, I should not want you, even if you asked to come. You have made your choice, you can be what you want to be. “ (P. 54-56) . In these lines from the text Ismene has made up her mind about helping Antigone because she doesn’t want to see her sister get persecuted, and Antigone accepts her decision in the lines above.   Ismene uses reasonable thinking by noticing something is wrong when Antigone starts to go on and on about their brother Polyneices. In the  Prologue lines 11-20 it says   “ANTIGONE. I thought so. And that is why I wanted you To come out here with me. There is something we must do. ISMENE. Why do you speak so strangely? ANTIGONE.

Listen, Ismene: Creon buried our brother Eteocles 15 With military honors, gave him a soldier's funeral, And it was right that he should; but polyneices, Who fought as bravely and died as miserably , They say that Creon has sworn no one shall bury him, no one mourn for him.” (P.11-20)  In the quote it shows reasonable thinking because Ismene being thrown off by Antigone coming to talk to her about burying their brother and she’s trying to figure out if her sister is okay with all that has happened. 

Ismene’s loyalty and fair-mindness

Ismene’s loyalty towards the  people closer to her affect the way she  interacts with others. According to Prologue lines 29-30 “ISMENE: Antigone, you are mad! What could I possibly do? ANTIGONE: You must decide whether you will help me or not.” (P.29-30) In the lines above Ismene is not happy to see her sister mad even though Ismene caused her to be mad and Antigone looking for her sister to be by her side asks if she is going to help her or not. Ismene’s loyalty affects how she talks with Creon. In the text Scene 2 lines 172-174 it says “ISMENE: But how could I go on living without her? CREON: You are. She is already dead.”(2.172-174) In these lines Ismene says that she can’t go living without Antigone because that’s only person she has ,but Creon threatens and tells Ismene that Antigone is dead which isn’t the truth. The loyalty that Ismene presents shows how scared she of closest people around her. 

As stated in  the Prologue 65-69 “ ISMENE: Antigone, I am so afraid for you! ANTIGONE. You need not be: You have yourself to consider, after all. ISMENE. But no one must hear of this, you must tell no one! I will keep it a secret, I promise!”(P. 65-69)In the evidence above it shows Ismene loyalty and how she interacts with others because she is scared for her sister and promises not to tell a soul so then it would affect how she interact with others because now if asked by Creon she could lie for Antigone because that is her sister. 

Ismene’s fair-mindedness helps her throughout Antigone to have an open mind towards situations she comes upon.  Fair-mindedness is something that is shown through the character Ismene even when looked at as insane. According to Scene 2  lines 167-169 “CREON: Gentlemen, I beg you to observe these girls: One has just now lost her mind; the other, It seems, has never had a mind at all.” (2.167-169) In this quote from the text shows how Creon thinks of Ismene and Antigone to their face about how he thinks their crazy, but really Ismene has used fair-mindedness to come up with the decision to either stand by her sister or obey the law.  

Ismene’s fair-mindedness helps her aware of the different situations she’s in and how she is to react to others. In the Prologue lines  36-46 it says “ISMENE: Ah sister! Oedipus died, everyone hating him For what his own search brought to light, his eyes Ripped out by his own hand; and Jocasta died, His mother and wife at once: she twisted the cords That strangled her life; and our two brothers died, Each killed by the other's sword. And we are left: But oh, Antigone, Think how much more terrible than these Our own death would be if we should go against Creon And do what he has forbidden!”(P.36-46)According to the text above Ismene is trying to warn Antigone beforehand of the danger that is to come of burying her brother. Also Ismene is saying like haven’t we been through enough that can we just have peace and follow the law.  Using fair-mindedness Ismene realized that the only person she had left in the world was Antigone and she couldn’t be without her.  In the text  Scene 2 line 157 says “ ISMENE: What do I care for life when you are dead ?”(2. 157)In this quote from the text Ismene has just told Creon that she takes the blame with her sister Antigone. Ismene takes the blame with Antigone because without her sister, Ismene feels as that there is no reason for life without Antigone.

Antigone, the play used the character Ismene’s loyalty, fair-mindedness, reasonable thinking to describe how she interacts, her actions, and  how she shows her personality towards others. In conclusion, the character Ismene is used only through the first half of the play because she is more of a person to be level headed, and her character doesn’t exactly fit in with the chaos of the main characters Antigone and Creon. Through the loyalty she showed towards Antigone, and the fair-mindedness she tried to bring through every situation she was in and also the reasonable thinking, she has shown just who she is as a character.



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