Gender Roles: Antigone And The Whale Rider
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Politics and Activism

Gender Roles: Antigone And The Whale Rider

Two stories, two women, similar struggles

Gender Roles: Antigone And The Whale Rider

It’s strange to see that two stories from two completely different time periods can be so alike in some aspects. The Whale Rider directed by Niki Caro and written by Witi Ihimaera shares the same components of the story of Antigone by Sophocles. Though written in two different time periods and different settings, both stories have elements of gender inequality. Both showing women having to fight harder for what they want than the average man. In the time Antigone was written it is no secret that women were put toward the end of the Great Chain of Being, but even today we see women being treated differently than men. The Whale Rider shows a young woman with in similar situation as Antigone because she too is seen as less than due to her gender

In Antigone, Creon (the king of Thebes) is consumed by his pride and ego. Just reading this play it is visible that there is a sufficient amount of social issues around women in ancient Greece. Although both of the ladies in these stories share the desire to be just as good as men, they have differing personalities. Antigone did what she had to do to get justice for her brother, from Creon. Paikea did the things she did for acceptance from her grandfather Koro. Antigone is more aggressive about getting what she felt was right. Paikea is more curious of her surroundings. Antigone was older than Paikea and Antigone was aware that she was being oppressed for her gender. Paikea didn't understand why she wasn't allowed to do what the rest of the boys were doing.

Koro, The Whale Rider, first exhibits male superiority and gender roles when Paikea speaks about her birth, “There was no gladness when I was born. When I was born, my twin brother died.” In Antigone, there are many showcases of men's superiorities. The idea of a woman being powerful and making a man feel weak is something unheard of at this time. Creon doesn't want a woman to be seen as stronger than him, Creon's son Haemon tries to talk sense into his father and Creon says this, “Do you want me to show myself weak before the people?/Or break my sworn word?/No, and I will not./The woman dies,”(Sophocles 3.26-28)

In ancient Greece and modern day New Zealand women are cast in roles less regarded than men's roles. This is because women are less regarded in these societies and looked at as a weaker type of human. Koro (chief of Maori tribe and Paikea's grandfather) says to Paikea “Paikea you are a girl, go to the back” (Caro) As Paikea tries to sit in the front with the boys in an informational meeting about who was going to become the next chief. There are women being oppressed and men that think they are superior to women from all around the world. “This boy, it seems, has sold out to a woman.” Creon says (3.108-962)

Paikea and Antigone are two women from different times and places enduring similar struggles with oppression. They stand for what they believe in and ultimately are successful in creating a change in not only their lives but the lives of the people around them. They did this not by using violence or harsh actions, they did this by showing what they were capable of. In the end, ending the idea of men's superiority to women in their communities.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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