Study Guide

Electra Duty

By Sophocles


Electra examines what happens when different kinds of duty come into conflict. There is duty to family members, to the gods, to the state (as demanded by law), to the dead, and to the self. Which duty should take precedence? The title character believes in an abstract duty unconditionally, even when it contradicts one's own will and all logical pragmatism. Whether or not the ending justifies the consequences of such devotion is subject to debate.

Questions About Duty

  1. Is Electra really bound by duty to commit murder, or does she have a choice?
  2. What sort of duty is Electra always talking about? Moral duty? Familial duty? Legal duty?
  3. What if these different types of duty conflict? Which one should take precedence?

Chew on This

Electra wants her mother and Aegisthus dead purely out of a sense of duty, not due to emotional or personal reasons.

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