A Response to Sophocles’ Electra
The performance, Elektra, by Sophocles is a Greek tragedy based particularly on the events occurring after the planned demise of King Agamemnon by his wife, Clytemnestra and his step husband, Aegisthus. With this background, the tale focuses on the deceased’s daughter, Electra and her brother, Orestes, in a quest for vengeance against their mother and their stepfather. The play is largely deemed as Sophocles’ best character play because of the thoroughness applied by the playwright in evaluating the motives and morals of Electra, specifically in relation to her inclination towards the act of matricide despite its unethical nature. Unlike Aeschylus’ Agamemnon trilogy, Sophocles’ Electra addresses the issue of personality and character since it questions what type of person, specifically woman, would actually murder her mother so keenly and murderously. In this respect, Electra’s quest for revenge is brought out on the Greek stage via a realistic form of performance.
Sophocles’ performance concerning Electra provokes a considerable realistic pattern of performance on the Greek stage. As such, it offers a challengingly complicated role, specifically for the actor. In his version, Electra possesses null qualms concerning matricide. Her vengeful notions are represented on stage by her negative perception of her mother, whom she sees as the larger evil and the one responsible for draining her life (Grene, Most, and Lattimore 170). However, she does not force her brother, Orestes, to participate in her act of vengeance. The guiding force in this narrative represents that of the devoted servant who saved Orestes through exile and the character responsible for the start of the performance. Nonetheless, Electra triumphs this part through absolute presence on the stage, especially in the way she presents herself as the protagonist. Even though her life is taken over by hate and grief, Orestes’ return illustrates that she has the potential to express passion and love (Grene, Most, and Lattimore 191). As such, her complex character is brought out of the Greek stage as that of a vengeful yet passionate and loving person.
Electra, as a person, is also seen as an individual who is very sentimental and dedicated obstinately to the tenets of justice, honor, and reverence. Towards the end, she asserts that, “Justice shall be taken directly on all who act above the law” (Grene, Most, and Lattimore 205). Despite her firm standing towards justice, the manner in which she exemplifies her hatred and vengeance towards her mother and stepfather influences the audience to see her as a conflicted and hypocritical individual. On one hand, she glorifies justice and asserts the concept over herself. On the other hand, her actions regarding the death of her guardians question her inclination towards the morals of the said virtue. However, the manner in which she exudes her character as that of a just and vengeful person allows the audience to sympathize with her. After all, Clytemnestra and Aegisthus were the characters solely responsible for the inhumane and evil demise of her father. As such, she believes that she is the sole person capable of justly avenging her father’s death (Grene, Most, and Lattimore 180).
In conclusion, the character of Electra is brought out on the Greek stage as that of a conflicted protagonist. This is best evidenced by the playwright’s focus on the unstable nature character rather than fixed aspects of morality and ethics. In this respect, Sophocles’ Electra illustrates the bad and the good side of Electra and illustrates this moral ambiguity on the Greek stage. Despite her involvement in the death of her mother, the protagonist is viewed as a human being, and a hero, who had the right to avenge the death of her father, which was unjustly performed.
Grene, David, Glenn W. Most, and Richmond Lattimore, eds. Sophocles II. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. Print.
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