Study Guide

Electra Revenge

By Sophocles

Revenge

THE CHORUS
May great Olympus' Lord
Return of evil still afford,
Nor let them wear the gloss of sovran ease! (209-212)

Electra keeps begging for other people – Orestes, Apollo, the Furies, Zeus – to bring vengeance upon her mother and Aegisthus. You might wonder why doesn't she just do it herself? Is there something different about a male seeking vengeance than a female?

ELECTRA
In darkness, and his foes shall not again
Render him blood for blood in amplest penalty. (247-8)

By the same logic, does Electra not deserve death at the end of the play? Where is the end-point of "blood for blood" vengeance? If there is no end-point, what does this say about this kind of vengeance?

ELECTRA
She watches for the hour wherein with guile
She killed our sire, and orders dance and mirth
That day o' the month (277-280)

Yet Electra seems to take just as much joy in the murder of Clytemnestra. It seems as though Electra's desire to seek vengeance "blood for blood" carries with it a degree of hypocrisy.

CHRYSOTHEMIS
I'll tell thee all I know. If thou persist
In these thy wailings, they will send thee far
From thine own land, and close thee from the day,
Where in a rock-hewn chamber thou may'st chant
Thine evil orisons in darkness drear. (379-382)

This raises the dramatic stakes on Orestes taking action quickly.

CHRYSOTHEMIS
Yea, when a thing is right, it is not well
Idly to wrangle, but to act with speed. (466)

Chrysothemis is suddenly all about duty, now that there is no risk of getting caught. Think about what this reveals about her character.

CLYTEMNESTRA
For my part, I can dwell on what I have done
Without regret. (548-9)

We can say one thing of the murderers in this play – they all have the courage of their convictions.

AEGISTHUS
Curse of Pelops' house! This place has seen
Enough destruction already. Must there be more? (1497-8)

Aegisthus highlights the downside of a "blood for blood" brand of justice.

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