Analysis Of Aeschylus's 'The Oresteia'

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Aeschylus’s trilogy, The Oresteia, presents one reason for Clytemnestra murdering Agamemnon: as revenge for the sacrificial murder of her daughter, Iphigenia. While this is not the only reason for Clytemnestra’s action, it is the most ambiguous; for example, Clytemnestra presents herself as a devoted mother, but she constantly contradicts her actions with her words. For instance, Clytemnestra, acting as a loving mother, vowed to avenge her daughter’s death, but later on goes to curse her own son, Orestes. Clytemnestra even claims to send Orestes off with loving intentions, rather it was for her own security. Furthermore, The Libation Bearers questions Clytemnestra’s motherhood with a disturbing serpent metaphor. Therefore, Clytemnestra’s …show more content…
Clytemnestra claims to Orestes that she “was the one who raised [him]; let me grow old with you [Orestes]” (The Libation Bearers 908). Clytemnestra also noted that she dreamed that Orestes, represented as a snake, “sucked her milk, clotted with blood” (The Libation Bearers 533). Through her dream and her claim, it seems as Clytemnestra truly loved the serpent she bore, Orestes, even though he caused her pain by sucking her blood while she was nurturing him. This analysis could prove that she adored Orestes however, she takes back the statement by damming Orestes’ birth by saying, “Ah! I suckled this serpent, I gave it life” (The Libation Bearers 928). For other mothers, the ability to denounce their own children would be arduous, because of their motherly bond. However, in Clytemnestra’s case, she did not have this motherly bond with her children, because of her detached relationship with them and isolated herself from them. Perhaps an explanation of her comfortable denunciation stems from her masculinity in that Orestes, like a snake, prepared to lay siege to Clytemnestra’s nest and her …show more content…
The townsmen constantly berate her for overstepping womanly boundaries, by acting as a king in place of Agamemnon before and after his death. For example, the watchman criticizes her by stating, “[Clytemnestra’s] a woman all right, a woman with a man’s heart” (Agamemnon 11). Understanding this statement explains Clytemnestra’s inability to maintain a close-knit relationship with her children. Since Clytemnestra does not have a woman’s heart, she cannot create a true motherly bond with her children. In fact, The Oresteia portrays women in the domestic sphere, caring for their children, while men are portrayed in the public sphere caring for their territory. Therefore, since Clytemnestra behaves as a man she can be placed in the public sphere and not the domestic sphere. Clytemnestra forsakes the duties of her motherhood for the political atmosphere. The comparisons of Clytemnestra as a lion utilize this negligence to criticize her masculinity. Without her motherly bond she is unable to care for children, and like a lion, she perceives Orestes as a threat to her power and banishes him. This criticizes her usurpation to the throne because she banished the rightful descendant to the throne, and if Clytemnestra had a strong motherly relationship, she would graciously submit her power to her child. Traditionally men

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