Comparing the Depiction of Gender roles in Two Unlikely Literatures Sophocle and David Ives

Sophocles tragedy Antigone is among the three legendary Theban plays and was written prior to 441 BC. David Ives’ play Sure Thing was presented in 1988 and is a part of Ives collection of stories All in the Timing. Antigone is a classic drama dwelling along the predictable lines of tyrannical rule, injustice, lust for power and the aftereffects of divine intervention. However, through Antigone, the leading lady, Ismene, and Eurydice, Sophocles comprehensively depicts the status of women in ancient Greek society and the awkward division of gender roles. It is made clear from the very first scene that women were considered subordinate to males. Females were believed to be unequal, weak, indecisive and incapable beings. Creon’s mentioning of the fact that Wives that are vile, I love not for my son indicates that only docile and meek women were considered perfect for marriage (Sophocles 652). Ye Slaves! Our women henceforth must be kept is probably the best line of the play that truly depicts the mentality of males (Sophocles 660). Ismene and Eurydice represent the stereotypical female figures that are clearly afraid of the wrath of men who ruled them. They considered themselves subordinate to men and much weaker in strength and will power. For this we need remember, we were born Women. as such, not made to strive with men. And next, that they who reign surpass in strength, And we must bow to this, and worse than this. (Sophocles 72) The society in Sophocles’ era was plagued by such laws that defied women freedom to live, speech and free-will. These laws were devised by men but implemented in the name of God to oppress the women and to control them. One such law was that A woman shall not rule as Creon puts it in a straightforward manner (Sophocles 592). Antigone in her conversation with Creon mentions the arbitrary nature of the laws by calling them plain and unwritten laws of God and asserts that Zeus cannot create such laws that are without justice and traced only for all the sons of men (Sophocles 496). Women are not allowed to take decisions or have their say in any matter and this is why Antigone’s decision to bury her brother is deemed rebellious by Creon. Women who dared to voice their opinions were given such severe punishments that compelled them to shrink in fear (Sophocles 660). Eurydice’s suicide is an indication of the fact that either death or surrendering to the will of males was the only probable solution for women even if she was the queen like Eurydice or H?mon’s fiance Antigone. Women were also victimized beings and, as is clearly mentioned at several occasions in the play, torturing was one of the favored punishments that were considered feasible for opinionated women (Sophocles 620). Antigone stood against oppression and takes her own life in the end but this does not depict female subjugation but actually shows her rejection of detestable norms and regressive male approach. On the other hand, Sure Thing is a simple and lighthearted one-act comic play presented in Ives’ trademark humorous style of narration. Sure Thing comprehensively highlights the altered norms of gender roles in contemporary society. Betty and Bill share a similar equation where no one is deemed superior to the other.