Study Guide

Electra Family

By Sophocles


Electra tests the bounds of conflicting family loyalty. The title character owes a duty to her dead father to avenge his murder. But, she owes her mother respect. Unfortunately, this question of loyalty is blurred because her mother is the murderer in question. To make matters worse, Electra has a duty to despise her dead sister's killer; unfortunately, that killer is her father. All sorts of drama unfold in this play as different loyalties compete with one another.

Questions About Family

  1. Electra's family descends from Atreus and is accompanied by a long line of murderous family squabbles. Is she simply doomed because of her bad blood?
  2. Why doesn't Orestes inform his sister of his plan so she doesn't think he's dead? Isn't his failure to clue Electra in a huge (and selfish) oversight on his part?
  3. Electra says more than once that her noble blood makes her act the way she does with regard to her father's death. What's nobility got to do with it?

Chew on This

The murder of Clytemnestra is wrong because it is matricide, not because it is murder.

The murder of Clytemnestra is wrong because it is murder, not because it is matricide.

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