Roger Williams University
April 22, 2013
The Ascents of Ideas
Clytemnestra the Adversary
Throughout Sophocles’ Electra, Clytemnestra, the antagonist of the story, and mother of the main character Electra, makes decisions that further remove her from her family, thus eventually leads to her murder by her own son, the protagonist and hero, Orestes. Whether it be the murder of her former husband Agamemnon, or the ill mannered treatment of Electra, Clytemnestra is seen to be a heartless villain. Though revenge is soon brought upon her and her accomplice, Aegisthus, when they are tricked into thinking that Orestes is dead, when in fact they are about to be murdered by him in cold blood. Through reading Sophocles’ Electra, one cannot seem to gather any pity for Clytemnestra, due to her inhumane morals and tendencies vividly exploited through her actions.
“Take no weapons. No Shield. No army. Go alone- a hand in the night. Snare them. Slaughter them. You have the right.” (Apollo line 957) This is a quotation brought upon Orestes by Apollo, advising him on the mission he is about to take part in. This quote is somewhat of a metaphor for the main point, which is the inhumanity of Clytemnestra. With a god giving a son the permission to kill his own mother, that is just supporting that point even more. The role that Clytemnestra plays in this story is nothing that one has ever seen before, setting the standards for all stories on behalf of her brutality and heartlessness as an antagonist.
A statement made by Clytemnestra on line 424 puts more backing to the argument- “And yet, It is true, Justice is not on my side. Your choice is the right one. On the other hand, If I want to live a free woman, There are masters who must be obeyed.” Clytemnestra is wrong in what she did but makes a faulty excuse as to why went through with her actions. Clytemnestra shows a lack of emotion and moral stature in admitting guilt to killing her husband. This quote...
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