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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Man and the Natural World

Throughout The Bacchae there are images of humanity finding harmony with nature – ladies dancing in woods and mountains, drinking honey from the ground, breast-feeding baby animals (no, reall...

Rules and Order

The Bacchae is a warning as to what can happen when an adherence to rules and order goes too far. When King Pentheus tries to impress his laws onto the ritualistic anarchy of the god Dionysus, the...

Religion

The central conflict of The Bacchae can be seen as a religious one. The god Dionysus comes home to Greece bringing with him the religion he's inspired all over Asia. When King Pentheus of Thebes re...

Madness

In The Bacchae, the theme of madness pops up constantly. The god Dionysus has a way of driving people mad and making them wild – really wild, like ripping-their-own-children apart wild. The p...

Transformation

There are all kinds of transformations in The Bacchae. People go in and out of sanity, mild-mannered women become warrior priestesses, and stiff-necked kings become cross-dressers. And, of course,...

Violence

The Bacchae is full of gruesomeness and violence. You've got both animals and people being ripped apart. Not to mention a mother parading around with the ghastly, severed head of her own son. When...

Women and Femininity

The Bacchae explores the issue of femininity in many interesting ways. We see a group of women rebel against their place in society and usurp the power of the men. Interestingly, these women don't...

Foreignness and 'the Other'

The ancient Greeks were famously suspicious of foreigners. This suspicion runs all through The Bacchae. The play explores the dangerous tensions that arise when a foreign religion starts to take pu...
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