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 do this of their own volition. They do so under the yoke of a male god. Of course, this male god is a little effeminate himself. It just keeps going like this. The play isn't anywhere near as cut and dried of an exploration of feminine revolt, as say, Euripides's Medea. With The Bacchae, Euripides found many new angles through which to explore the issue femininity.
Questions About Women and Femininity
- In what ways are the female characters in the play manipulated by the male characters?
- Do you think that the murderous mother figure exemplifies feminine strength or weakness in this piece? Why?
- Does Pentheus exhibit any feminine stereotypes when he dresses as a woman? If so, what are they?
- What differences do you see between the two major groups of women in the play, the Maenads and the Chorus?
Chew on This
The Bacchae could not be described as a play of female liberation, as all the women are subject to either a male god or the patriarchy of Pentheus.
Agave exhibits both similarities and differences to Medea, another of Euripides's famous murderous mothers.