Jealousy In Antigone, The Tale Of Genji, And The 1001 Nights

The authors of literary works present their ideas, thoughts, and philosophical ideas, which are referred to as themes. The authors of Antigone, The Tale of Genji, and the Excerpts from the 1001 Nights present one common theme of jealousy in their works. This essay presents how the three different authors of these texts develop the theme of jealousy and the specific message that the authors are trying to convey to their audience through the development of this theme. In his play, Antigone, Sophocles develops the theme of jealousy through the rivalry between Antigone and her sister Ismene. Their rivalry stems from two aspects of their lives, that is, their personality and beauty, and willingness to conform to their femininity. Antigone’s jealousy and spite towards her sister are caused by the physical and personality differences between the two. While Antigone is skinny and pale in coloring and with an unpleasing personality that makes her less attractive to men, Ismene, is radiant, curvy, reasonable, well-mannered, and obedient girl with a pleasant personality. Antigone grows jealous of Ismene, wanting her beauty. The jealousy is further heightened by Ismene’s attractiveness to young men as she was surrounded by many young men while Antigone attracted none. The jealousy led Antigone to steal Ismene’s pretty dresses and makeup to capture the attention of Haemon.

Other than the beauty and attractiveness of Ismene, Antigone’s jealousy was driven by Ismene’s submission to patriarchal will and power that sets women as a second-class, insignificant citizens of Thebes. Antigone disagrees with this logic and refuses to cow to male dominance. This phenomenon is projected when Ismene refuses to help Antigone in giving a decent burial to their brother Polyneices. Ismene advises her sister that they should not fight against men as they are more powerful. She elaborated to Antigone that Creon, who was their king and uncle, had issued a decree that forbade the burial. Ismene argued that she would ask for pardon from the dead since she was compelled to obey those in authority. Antigone, on the other hand, is not happy with her sister’s stand as she argues that she must do what is right for her and her brother, even if it leads to her death. Sophocles presents Ismene as having all the attributes that Antigone would wish to have, including success, beauty, happiness, and men’s attention. However, Antigone lacks the same. Thus, it is only natural for her to have feelings of resentment (Sophocles, 2005).

In the Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu develops the theme of jealousy through the resentment developed by women in the Heian polygamy system. Kiritsubo Intimate, Genji’s mother, was exceptionally favored by the Emperor. This trend caused the other Emperor’s lovers who were initially favored to resent her. When Kiritsubo’s Intimate died, Lady Rokujo’s life experiences catalyzed her hate for polygamy, and specifically against the women that were married to her lover, Genji. Following the untimely death of her husband, Crown Prince, who would have been her ladder to becoming the Empress, Lady Rokujo was unable to marry again. She only remained in a causal relationship with Genji. However, with time her relationship with Genji grew and almost reached the highest position in the polygamist ladder but was then relegated to the lowest level.

At the beginning of her relationship with Genji, Lady Rokujo was set to the low sexual hierarchy because of her young age. Yugao took her position. Lady Rokujo’s jealousy prompted her to kill Yugao. Lady Rokujo, who was spiritually empowered, sought to take back Genji’s attention by force. When Genji failed to reciprocate the attention to Lady Rokujo because of their age difference, Lady Rokujo instigated the death of Aoi, Genji’s principal wife. This undertaking was after being humiliated and disgraced by Aoi’s servants on several occasions. The author of the “1001 Nights” uses storytelling to develop the theme of jealousy. Particularly, Scheherazade’s tale of “The Two Sisters Who Were Jealous of Their Younger Sister,” portrays the personality of two sisters who were envious of their younger sister because of her fortune. The younger sister who was the smartest and most beautiful of the three sisters was married to the Sultan according to her wish. Her sisters’ wishes were also fulfilled by the Sultan. Nevertheless, the older sisters were jealous of the comfortable life that their younger sister had. As a result, they replaced the babies born by their younger sister with puppies so that the Sultan would despise her. While the older sisters succeeded in their ploy to have the younger sister banished by the Sultan, the children who had been born to the younger sister survived. At the end of the story, the Sultan rejoices at finding them, welcomes them their mother back, and banishes the two horrid sisters from the palace.

The three authors send specific messages to their audience through the development of the theme of jealousy. Sophocles play “Antigone” uses the theme of jealousy to convey the message that people employ different measures in a bid to make themselves more superior or equal. Antigone’s envy for her sister prompts her bravery and defiance of rules set in a patriarchal society. She attempts to show that she can also be attractive by wearing her sister’s makeup and dresses. Through “The Tale of Genji”, Shikibu uses the theme of jealousy to convey a message that women’s power in society is important for their well-being, and that a polygamous system works against the power of women in society. The “1001 Nights”, author, on the other hand, tries to convey the message that jealousy has negative outcomes on those who are envious. On the other hand, it only has a limited negative effect on those to whom the jealous feelings are directed.

Work Cited

  1. Johnston, I. (2005). Sophocles Antigone . Vancouver Island University.
  2. Li Sui, G. (2014). One Thousand and One Nights: Love Poems. Landmark Books Pte Ltd.
  3. Shikibu, M.,
07 July 2022
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