Study Guide

Electra Fate and Free Will

By Sophocles

Fate and Free Will

In this play, young Orestes is commanded by Apollo to murder his mother. Does this exonerate him of responsibility for his crime? Could he disobey the God if he wanted? His family seems to be under a "curse" given that murder, betrayal, and mayhem have plagued its last five generations. Does this mean such events are beyond the control of individuals? Electra explores just how much free will a person has in the fate-driven world of Greek mythology.

Questions About Fate and Free Will

  1. Consider Orestes's verbatim recount of the Oracle's message from Apollo. Is there are room for ambiguity or differences in interpretation here? Or is Apollo definitely telling him to make with the slice-and-dice?
  2. If Apollo is giving the go-ahead Orestes, does that mean Orestes is absolved of responsibility for his murder(s)?
  3. Consider Clytemnestra's dream. Is this some sort of divine intervention, and if so, what are the gods telling her?

Chew on This

In Electra, the characters misinterpret justice as something dictated by the gods. In this way, they avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.

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