Study Guide

Electra Betrayal

By Sophocles


Familial betrayal is the name of the game in Electra. A father sacrifices his daughter to the gods, a wife kills her husband, a daughter conspires to kill her mother, and a son commits matricide. The play takes a look at "blood for blood" reasoning as the cause of a long line of one betrayal after another and questions the wisdom of such a vengeance-driven justice system.

Questions About Betrayal

  1. Is familial betrayal worse than betrayal in general? What does Electra have to say on the topic?
  2. At the play's opening, Orestes ignores a cry of pain from the palace that is obviously his sister's. What gives? Is it OK that he waits so long to reveal his identity to Electra?
  3. According to this play, when is betrayal justified?

Chew on This

By failing to inform Electra ahead of time of his plan, Orestes betrays his sister.

By failing to condemn the actions of the royal couple, Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, Chrysothemis betrays her father.

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