Study Guide

Electra Closing Scene

By Sophocles

Closing Scene

  • Electra comes on stage and explains to the Chorus women that Clytemnestra is inside dressing the urn, while Orestes is preparing to do the deed. Pylades is in there with them.
  • Suddenly, from off-stage, Clytemnestra's cries are heard. She yells for Aegisthus and begs her son to have mercy on his mother.
  • Electra, still outside the palace, comments that Clytemnestra had no mercy on Orestes nor on Agamemnon.
  • Clytemnestra cries out that she has been struck, and Electra yells for Orestes to strike her again.
  • He does, which we know because Clytemnestra yells that she has been struck again.
  • The Chorus sings that the deadly curse is at work again, "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" (1418-20).
  • Orestes and Pylades come on stage from the palace. Orestes confirms that the Queen is dead, but before they can celebrate, the Chorus leader announces that Aegisthus is approaching.
  • Electra hurries Orestes and Pylades back inside the palace, while the Chorus urges her to play it cool in front of her stepfather.
  • Aegisthus enters. He's heard that messengers have announced the death of Orestes – is it true?
  • Yes, says Electra, and the messengers are now inside with the Queen. They even brought his dead body as proof.
  • Aegisthus is overjoyed. He wants the whole town to know that Orestes is dead, so that anyone who harbored hope in the young man as an avenger will have dashed hopes.
  • Aegisthus calls for Orestes's body to be brought outside.
  • Orestes and Pylades come onto the stage, bringing with them Clytemnestra's covered body.
  • Aegisthus says that he should not to gloat, because kinship requires some mourning. He then calls for Clytemnestra.
  • Orestes indicates the dead body and tells him that she's here already, and that he (Aegisthus) has been "exchanging words with a dead man" (1479).
  • Aegisthus puts two and two together; he would like a chance to speak to Orestes before Orestes kills him.
  • Electra urges Orestes to kill Aegisthus quickly, rather than giving him the chance to speak his mind.
  • The time for talking is done, says Orestes, and ushers Aegisthus inside the palace. He wants him to die on the spot where he killed Agamemnon. The two men, along with Pylades, move into the palace.
  • The Chorus sings to close the play. They congratulate "the seed of Atreus" (presumably Electra) for finding freedom "through grief and hardness."

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