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Character Role Analysis

Electra to Orestes

Typically, a foil character provides some sort of contrast to the main character in a story. But there isn't much point in comparing characters who are completely different from each other, is there? Thus, in most respects, Electra and Orestes are very similar – and not just because they apparently wear the same shoe-size. More importantly, Electra and Orestes are both in the same situation (dad killed by mom, mom shacked up with her accomplice in the murder), and they're both mad as Hades and don't want to take it anymore. So what's the big difference between them? Really, it boils down to differences in the structure of Greek society, and the gender roles it gave rise to. (See our discussion of the theme of "Gender" for a more detailed treatment of this issue.) Because Electra is a woman, she has to go inside the house, keep everything under wraps, and sit patiently until vengeance comes to her father's killers. The task of carrying out that vengeance falls to Orestes, her brother.