Study Guide

Orestes, Electra, and Clytemnestra The Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey

Monomyth/The Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey is a framework that scholar Joseph Campbell came up with that many myths and stories follow. Many storytellers and story-readers find it a useful way to look at tale. (That's actually putting it lightly. Some people are straight-up obsessed.) Chris Vogler adapted Campbell's 17 stages of a hero's journey, which many screenwriters use while making movies. Vogler condensed Campbell's 17 stages down to 12, which is what we're using. Check out a general explanation of the 12 stages.

The story of Orestes, Electra, and Clytemnestra doesn't fit perfectly into the Hero's Journey structure, but we're giving it a shot. As the gross old saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat.

Ordinary World

After being secreted away from his home city of Mycenae as a little boy, Orestes grows up away from his family in the court of King Strophius. For him, an average day is chilling with his BFF Pylades, the son of Strophius.

Call to Adventure

The call comes from Orestes' sister, Electra. She writes letters saying it's high time Orestes came home and avenged the murder of their father, Agamemnon, by their mother, Clytemnestra. Electra thinks that it's Orestes' duty to kill Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus, who now sits on the throne of Mycenae.

Refusal of the Call

Orestes doesn't exactly hop right to the task his sister sets before him. He's got to really think about it before he decides to take up mother-killing as a hobby.

Meeting the Mentor

Orestes is in serious need of advice, so he and Pylades head off to the Oracle of Delphi. There, he's told by Apollo that he must avenge his father by killing his mother and Aegisthus.

Crossing the Threshold

Now Orestes figures he's got no choice but to go through with it. He was ordered to carry out the deed by a god. What else can he do but cross that threshold?

Tests, Allies, Enemies

Orestes arrives in Mycenae with his best bud, Pylades. The two are disguised as messengers with the news that Orestes is dead, so that none of their enemies will see what's coming at them. Orestes drops his disguise long enough to reveal himself to Electra, who's overjoyed that he's finally back.

Approach to the Inmost Cave

As Orestes walks through the doors of the palace, he must deal with doubts about the bloody deed he's about to perform. Still, he walks forward.

Ordeal

It's a really bloody, horrible, awful ordeal when Orestes goes through with killing his mom and Aegisthus.

Reward

The story definitely veers away from the Hero's Journey here. Instead of being rewarded for what he does, Orestes is punished. The Furies rise up from the Underworld to punish him for what he's done.

The Road Back

Orestes may not go back to the place he started, but he does go back to the Oracle of Delphi. There, Apollo tells him to go Athens, then the god will help him get the Furies off his back.

Resurrection

When Orestes arrives in Athens, Apollo sets up a trial with Athena as the judge. Though it's a close call, Orestes is acquitted, narrowly avoiding an eternity of torture with the Furies.

Return with the Elixir

Forgiven of his crime, Orestes returns home to Mycenae to claim his throne. Soon, he'll be a powerful king, just like his dear old dad.

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