The article, The Isolation of Antigone and Lady Macbeth by Catherine Bradshaw Boyd, is an analytical writing that compares and contrasts “two magnificent women characters” know as “the great figures of Antigone and Lady Macbeth.” In the thesis statement of this article, the author states that although the stories were “centuries apart, in civilizations vastly different from religious and philosophical standpoints” the characters created by the authors are centered around an idea of isolation. Although the reasoning behind the laws violated by each character differed, both of them shared common characteristics relating to the feelings shown as the actions took place and the realization of their situation in the end(anagnorisis).
The theme of isolation is evident in both Macbeth and Antigone. In these stories, the prominent characters(s) seem to be isolated from others because of their beliefs and/or actions. Antigone is alone at the beginning of the play when her sister decides that she is not going to take part in the burial of Polynices. This isolation from her sister, the only family member she has alive, leads to Antigone’s development of “emotional individualism”. Lady Macbeth’s isolation is caused by her partaking and plotting a murder. Since most women of that time were seen as delicate, Lady Macbeth separated herself from the social norms because of her “casual acceptance of the murder of Duncan”, “her apparent indifference to the blood of her victim”, and her “monstrosity”.
Antigone and Lady Macbeth seem to have no remorse or regret for their felonious actions. According to Boyd, Lady Macbeth “almost gloats as her husband is committing the murder.” This action shows that she was proud that she had the ability to convince her husband to commit an act that beforehand he would not of. The fact that Lady Macbeth took advantage of “every possible moment” characterizes her a seducing or persuasive woman. As Antigone was being persecuted for burying her brother, Ismene, her sister, tried to take part in the blame for the deed. Because of Antigone’s desire to die a martyr and her pride in her actions, she denied Ismene’s account.
Toward the end of both plays, the prominent character(s) experience an anagnorisis, which leads to the a feeling of understanding and guilt. Even though Lady Macbeth was satisfied with the fact that her husband had finally achieved his greatest desire, as the story continues she “has a sudden and perfect conception of a kingship supported and secured by the murder of innocent people.” When she realizes that Duncan was innocent in her anagnorisis “a subtle change takes place in her character”. As Antigone is about to be persecuted by Creon, she has a moment of weakness where she shows self-pity and has a small revelation. Even though Antigone has a “sense of duty”, she still has a moment of weakness because of the disciplinary acts about to be taken against her, death.
Catherine Bradshaw Boyd was able to show that the theme of isolation can be used in different ways to create a tragic education for a character(s). The use of tragic education in plays has been used throughout history and her article was able to show how it was developed and changed to create fundamental characters.
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