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Libation Bearers

Libation Bearers

by Aeschylus

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Overcoming the Monster

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type :

Anticipation Stage and 'Call'

The oracle of Delphi tells Orestes to get revenge for his father's murder.

This actually happens before the beginning of the story we see onstage, but it is crucially important to everything that follows. Not only is this what gets Orestes moving on his revenge plot, but he constantly refers to the oracle for reassurance as he moves towards his ultimate confrontation with the monster: his mother Clytemnestra (plus Aegisthus, but nobody really cares too much about him).

Dream Stage

After meeting up with Electra and the Chorus of slave women, Orestes tricks his way into the palace and kills Aegisthus.

As soon as he gets back to Argos, Orestes finds out that he has allies. With a little help from these new-found friends, Orestes is able to make his way into the palace and kill the detestable Aegisthus. Everything looks like it's going swimmingly.

Frustration Stage

Orestes confronts his mother, Clytemnestra.

After killing Aegisthus, a minor-baddie who doesn't really count for much, Orestes finally finds himself face-to-face with the mother (hehe) of all his troubles. Clytemnestra makes a bid for sympathy, and Orestes wavers in his determination.

Nightmare Stage

After Pylades shouts out encouragement, Orestes keeps arguing with Clytemnestra.

Pylades's words of advice got Orestes out of the Frustration Stage, but this has only geared him up for the final verbal battle with Clytemnestra, in which he must not lose his cool – or else he will lose his opportunity for revenge.

The Thrilling Escape from Death, and Death of the Monster

Orestes kills Clytemnestra.

Orestes finally has enough of the argument and drives his mother inside the palace to be killed. Moments later, he reemerges, displaying the bodies of his two victims. It looks like the monster is slain. But then, a new set of monsters appears: the horrible Furies of vengeance. Even though it isn't clear whether these fearsome ladies really exist (they could just be the products of Orestes's own troubled mind), their effects on our hero are all too clear. In this way, Libation Bearers ends by setting us up for the sequel: Eumenides.

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