Sophocles's Electra vs. Euripides's Electra

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Euripides and Sophocles wrote their own versions of the Electra story.

The basic plot is as follows: Agamemnon is killed by Clytemnestra and

her lover Aegisthus after he returns from the Trojan war to reclaim his

sister-in-law Helen from the Trojans. Electra and her brother Orestes

plot to kill their mother and her lover to revenge his death. Both

authors wrote about the same plot, but the built the story very

differently. Sophocles focused on Orestes, and Euripides focused more

on the life of Electra.

In Sophocles's version, the play opens with Orestes learning his fate

from the Pythian Oracle; he must revenge his father's death unarmed and

alone. He sends his pedagogue Pylades, as a spy, to learn about the

situation in Mycenae. Electra mourns for her father's death. She is

unable to avenge her father's murders without the help of Orestes, her

brother. She is also mad about how her mother and her lover waste her

father's riches and desecrate his name. Her half-sister Chrysothemis is

no help to Electra and refuses to help in the murder of her mother and

mother's lover. Pylades arrives bearing the sad news of Orestes death.

He tells Clytemnestra that Orestes was killed in a chariot race at the

Delphian games; his body was cremated and his ashes were sent to

Mycenae. Concealing his identity, Orestes arrives and with the help of

Electra and Pylades, plots the murder of his mother and his mother's

lover. Orestes enter the palace, kills his mother and returns to

Electra. When Aegisthus arrives, Orestes kills him as well fulfilling

his destiny.

Euripides's version is much more dramatic. The play begins with

Electra's marriage to a peasant. Aegisthus had tried to kill Electra

but Clytemnestra convinced him to allow her to live. He decided to

marry her to a peasant so her children will be humbly born and pose no

threat to his throne. Orestes and Pylades arrive. Orestes...
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