Study Guide

Electra Justice and Judgment

By Sophocles

Justice and Judgment

Where does the concept of "justice" originate? In duty as a citizen? In morality? In law? In the realm of the gods? What about in the duty of personal or familial allegiances? Electra addresses these questions, and in the process, teaches us that "justice" is a tricky concept. Too often, the notion of "justice" is used as justification for a questionable action (matricide, in this specific case). If an action is considered "wrong" in some ways but "right" in others, can the action still be considered to be just?

Questions About Justice and Judgment

  1. Which actions in this play are just, and which are unjust? Which characters are morally ambiguous, and which are firmly "good" or "bad?"
  2. Is justice determined by the gods or by men in this play?
  3. How does the Chorus judge Electra in the play's closing lines? Try looking at a few different translations of these concluding words. Is there any difference in the final scene between them?

Chew on This

Electra is motivated not by justice, but by selfishness. She wants Aegisthus and her mother dead because they make her life miserable.

Electra is motivated only by justice.

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