Females and their influence on society

The stars of Freud's Introductory Lectures and Sophocles' Antigone are females. Though women were seen as inferior beings in the eyes of Freud, the actions of the female population were the driving force of Freud’s work. Without females, either Freud would have nothing to base his lectures on or he would have to change the topic of his work altogether. Similarly, all the action and major impacts were caused by a single, powerful female figure in Sophocles’ story. Every death and major event in Antigone can be traced back to a single female, Antigone. Although females influence Freud’s work in a less direct way than that of Sophocles’, both texts would completely change if women were removed from the picture. The following gallery includes visual displays that demonstrate the female driven impacts on society found in both texts.

Women were the center of attention in society. As seen in the work of Freud, everything about the female, including anatomy, was highlighted for all to read, “The female genitals…are undeniably female symbols…larger hemispheres of the female body…Another symbol of the female…” (127) though women did not necessarily have to become naked to get attention. Their actions and influences were documented as clear as day in both texts without any coverage or confusion. “Antigone going to her bridal room /where all are laid to rest in death.” (Sophocles, 912).
Women were the queens of society because of the amount of influence they had in their society, “Haemon had his arms around her waist- he was embracing her and crying out in sorrow for the loss of his own bride” (Sophocles, 1361). “Creon is holding the body of Haemon (Sophocles, 1403). Ironically, the way men saw them was the opposite of what they really classified as in terms of power structure. Men saw women as inferior, but their influence on men, directly or indirectly, proved men wrong. Because the penis symbolized manhood, those without a penis were belittled or feminized “…threatened by a parent or nurse with having his penis or sinful hand cut off” (303).
The female mind was what drove the women to perform their actions. Some of Freud’s works recorded the influential decisions that women could make, “she wanted to give him only a very subtle hint…that even before he made his choice that she was wholly his and loved him-“ (25). The fact that she already made up her mind led to her pursuing him. Society is directly influenced by the thoughts of females (in this case, Freud’s patients and Antigone) as soon as the female decides to put those thoughts into words and/or actions, “Yes. I’ll do my duty to my brother— and yours as well, if you’re not prepared to. I won’t be caught betraying him” (Sophocles, 56).
Determination led to women gaining power in different forms. If a female patient sexually wanted Freud, she would pursue him, indirectly influencing Freud’s works as he would document her actions and conscious mind, “The sexual life of adult women is a 'dark continent' for psychology” (212). Correspondingly, Antigone’s extreme belief to bury Polyneices and not allow anyone or anything to stop her gave her influential power strong enough to lead to multiple deaths including Haemon, Eurydice, and her own.
This famous painting perfectly captures the importance of females within both texts. Particular notorious women were the center of attention and other people, male or female, acknowledged them with heavy spotlights, “How I despise a person caught committing evil acts who then decides to glorify the crime” (562). Their actions were meticulously examined and jotted down, “The day after her return from the honeymoon…She had forgotten that this gentleman…I shuttered as I heard the story…The little incident only occurred to my mind some year later…” (Freud, 42).
The way that women interacted with men of societal influence allowed them to overpower those men. They have the capability to create, or at least get men to rethink, their ideas. Every conclusion that Freud drew about women was based on experiences he had with his female patients. As for Sophocles, he portrayed Antigone as a character powerful enough to be able to get Creon to rethink his law declaring execution on anyone who tried to break his laws, “The why delay?...they share my views…These views of yours- so different from the rest- don’t they bring you any sense of shame?“ (567). Antigone’s power was inherently present from her position as Haemon’s fiancé.
Gender determined whether the character would have independent thoughts or questions on those of others. Men were the ones who questioned the female mind while females already knew what they wanted. “dreams dreamt by a young girl…a lecture about it would be quite confusing and unsatisfactory” (152). Dreams can be interpreted by Freud as the unconscious mind’s thoughts. In contrast, the females who wanted Freud continued to pursue him, having thoughts based on their own independent sexual feelings. Antigone knew she wanted to bury her brother and there was nothing capable of stopping her.
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