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MonkeyNotes-Electra by Euripides
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OVERALL Analysis

Character Analysis

Major

Electra

Electra is the central figure in the tragedy. She is shattered during her childhood by an experience that is too shocking and terrible to bear. She has extreme feelings of love and hate. She hates her mother and stepfather and is obsessed with the idea of revenge. She loves her dead father. She is probably the most profoundly studied woman character in Greek tragedy. Her character is very penetrating.

Soon after the play begins, she informs that she has to fill water from a nearby stream. Though she is a princess, she has no choice but to do manual work. She however, tells her husband that she is doing so because of gratitude for his magnanimity. This gratitude as well as her condition is genuine. She has great regard for him. She feels free to ask him for favors like calling the old servant. Also she freely chides him for inviting Orestes and Phylades to their house which is not of their standard. She is as free as a wife though the marriage has not been consummated.

Before Electra is married to the peasant, she receives many proposals, but Aegisthus does not get her married to any nobleman as he fears that she may bear brave sons who may kill him. Thus she is married to the peasant and lives in poverty with him. She refuses the invitation of the chorus to the festival of Hera, as she does not have proper clothes to wear. This is one of her principle grievance. Her ragged clothes depict her shattered condition. She tells her brother that she has to weave cloth for her dress or go naked.

The most important characteristic in Electra is her revengeful attitude, which she has unknowingly inherited from her mother. She is determined to avenge her fatherís death and the suffering caused to her and her brother. She loves her brother very much. She is thus very happy to recognize him and to know that he is alive. It is worthwhile to note that ever since she recognizes him, she instigates him to kill their mother. Yet at the climactic moment the sword falls from her hand and Orestes does the sinful job.


When Clymenestra gives reasons for having killed King Agamemnon, Electra is not willing to adhere to reason. She blames her totally without realizing how cruelly her father had wronged her. He had even killed their daughter Iphigenia and brought Cassandra for his pleasure. Electra is "blind" to reality and considers her mother to be totally bad without even slight goodness in her.

After Clymenestra is killed, Electra regrets woefully. She realizes that she is one of the major factors in instigating Orestes to commit matricide, the other factor being Apolloís oracle. She addresses the dead body of her mother saying that they (she and Orestes) love her though they hated her. They lovingly cover their motherís body. Their affection, which was hid within them, comes to the fore. They see the furies, which represent their own conscience. She is finally separated from her brother at a time when only she could have given him solace and received solace from him. The tragedy of Electra is intensified because she cannot do anything to undo what she has done.

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