• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare and Contrast the Portrayal of Clytemnestra in Agamemnon and Electra

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Compare and Contrast the Portrayal of Clytemnestra in Agamemnon and Electra In both Electra and Agamemnon, Euripides and Aeschylus have chosen to represent Clytemnestra as a complex character being neither all bad nor all good - the signature of a sophisticated playwright. In Agamemnon, Clytemnestra is a morbidly obsessive woman, utterly consumed by the murder of her daughter for which the audience cannot help but sympathise; she is capable only of vengeance. In the Electra, Clytemnestra is placed in an even more sympathetic light, victimised by her own daughter who in turn is driven by an obsessive desire, similar to that of her mother's, to avenge her father's death. In ancient plays and epics, the name of Clytemnestra was used as synonymous with the extremity of unfaithfulness, for example, in Homer's The Odyssey we see faithful Penelope being contrasted to the wicked Clytemnestra. This suggests that a contempory audience may have found Clytemnestra to be far less sympathetic than to a modern audience, whose infiltrated ideas of s****l equality inevitably impact on our sympathies. To sympathise with any character, we must be able to understand and identify with that character's point of view. Clytemnestra was a mother whose daughter was about to marry the famous Achilles. Her love and pride in Iphigenia would have been at its strongest at this time as she helped her daughter prepare for the noble marriage. ...read more.

Middle

Clytemnestra's ability to 'manoeuvre' is also an attribute dwelt upon. Clytemnestra obtains what she wants by devious means, relying upon herself to manoeuvre around others, "I'll gather all I need." Another example of her guile is her system of beacons she invents so that she may be the first to know the end of the Trojan War. She clearly delights in her own cunning and makes sure that everyone appreciates her ingenuity, "I ordained it all." Clytemnestra's intellect is clear throughout Agamemnon but especially clever is her idea of persuading her husband to walk upon the sacred tapestries which would incur the gods' wrath and justify her murder. This method Clytemnestra thought of may however indicate more than her intellect. Clytemnestra's need to incur the gods' wrath may expose the first and last instance of self-doubt in the Agamemnon. Clytemnestra must feel deep down that, after all, she may not be fully justified to kill Agamemnon purely on his unjust sacrifice of their daughter Iphigenia. This is clearly Electra's view of her mother's actions displayed in Electra. Electra tells us that Clytemnestra is a cruel, pitiless, woman; a killer of her own husband who deserves to be punished for her actions. All of these assertions hold truth; she is indeed a cruel and pitiless killer, plotting for years and then finally rejoicing over Agamemnon's death. ...read more.

Conclusion

Clytemnestra also does not call for Orestes to come back to the palace. Both of these were done as an attempt to safe-guard her position as Queen; a purely selfish motive leaving no room for maternal feelings and recalling the harsher depiction of her character in Agamemnon. We can also expose some outright lies Clytemnestra tried to make Electra believe when structuring her defence. She tells Electra that it was Cassandra who finally pushed her to kill Agamemnon when we know that she had been planning his death all along. Knowing that she lied about this, can we take her subtle suggestions of maternal love to be genuine or another scheme, typical of her character in Agamemnon. In both plays we only see her through the eyes of others, she isn't actually strongly characterised. Her psychological reasons for the murder are the point and not her emotional state. Considering this, both Agamemnon and Electra reach similar conclusions concerning Clytemnestra's situation. She has ample grounds for hating her husband but no-one holds her justified in killing him in either play, "your words are just; yet in your 'justice' there remains something repellent." Electra disposes of her mother's defence in detail and leaves the audience feeling that Clytemnestra's murder of her husband really was not warranted. How different the plays are in their depiction of her character depend on how the reader chooses to interpret Clytemnestra's maternal professions; either genuine and loving or devious and selfish. Zoe Stimson ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Classics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Classics essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Who was the real tragic hero of the Agamemnon?

    3 star(s)

    Another factor to this could be that Agamemnon doesn't realise that his life is spared for a worse fate after the gods protected him from the storm whilst coming back from Troy. The worse fate is that Clytemnestra killed him.

  2. Compare and contrast the portrayal of the Gods in Virgil's Aeneid and Ovid's metamorphoses.

    a powerful Olympian god, yet he has to resort to the human method of chasing, to get the woman he loves. Likewise, when Mercury descends to earth to court Aglauros, he smoothes down his hair and arranges his robe, so that the gold hem shows-all to impress the girl.

  1. How far does the Agamemnon reflect the Perfect Tragedy?

    He is true to life as a character, he strives to do what he thinks is right, even though he is not always right. He is consistent throughout the play and he does not have an anagnorisis before he is murdered.

  2. Compare and Contrast the Characters of Agamemnon and Jason. Which Do You Think is ...

    After Medea has killed his sons, Glauce and Creon, all hopes of him achieving this from his view are gone. There will be no children to pass his name on to their children and he won't live in the palace as royalty as an important figure.

  1. Why did the Romans invade Britain and how did they affect it?

    Some public baths even divided hot rooms into steam and dry heat areas. Many British would go to the baths daily before dinner to socialize with the other people in town. The baths served as a meeting place, heath club and healing spa to the Roman British.

  2. Throughout Aeschyluss play, Oresteia, the theme of justice arises in the form of revenge. ...

    Being a good ally is a very vital aspect for Agamemnon, since his brother is the one who needs the help. Agamemnon also knows that once he gives his help as an ally, whenever he will need help, his allies will be on his side to support him.

  1. Cinderella - play script

    Cinderella: They're so beautiful! Godmother: Don't you run away from me! (The remaining mice become the driver, & footmen) Let's see we've got footmen, the driver, horses, carriage... is there anything I've forgotten? (Cinderella looks down at her rags, and looks up again)

  2. history classics

    However in Agamemnon's tomb a breastplate was also found. These coverings were also used to protect the king after death. The influence from Crete is apparent in Agamemnon's tomb. This is seen in the metal cups found which had a pattern of 'sacral knots', which is like a looped knot with frayed ends, also imported pottery was found.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work