The Symbols Of Light And Darkness In The Oresteia

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The world in which The Oresteia takes place is one where light and darkness are just two of many images used to enhance all viewpoints of the society that “Clytaemnestra” “Agamemnon” and “The Libation Bearers” occupy. The evolution is shown throughout the tragedy of The Oresteia, beginning in “Agamemnon”. The first play begins with the watchman noticing a signal fire upon a mountain, which lights up the night sky, therefore, alerting Argos that the Trojan War is finally over. Light and darkness oppose and support each other for the rest of The Oresteia, symbolizing the adjustments and struggles taking place during this time of change. Images of light and darkness are first shown when the watchman proclaims, “You dawn of darkness, you turn …show more content…
Although murder is seen as the worst kind of evil in The Oresteia, Clytaemnestra is seen using the light imagery of fire while she defends herself against her murder of Agamemnon: “I sacrificed this man- I swear my hopes / will never walk the halls of fear so long / as Aegisthus lights the fire on my hearth.” (A 1461-63) This symbol of light represents the change that Clytaemnestra sees as she attempts to bring goodness into the house of Atreus. It is the first sign of goodness against the evil that has imbued the house of Atreus for generations. Clytaemnestra envisions her act against Agamemnon as a way to finally break away from the curse, however, the chorus, to which she is defending herself to, identifies the murder as a plague of darkness. Cassandra had prophesized Agamemnon’s murder as “darkness in a dream” (A 1224). The darkness within the house of Atreus has only grown with Clytaemnestra’s last murder. Because this increase of darkness is a direct result of the murder of Agamemnon, Aeschylus depicts the chorus as believing the murder was complete evil. Even Cassandra “pray[s] to the sun / the last light [she’ll] see” (A 1346-47), indicating that even the prophet cannot foresee the goodness that will be brought into the …show more content…
They begin their rage against Athena and Apollo. The Furies try to charge Orestes as being guilty, saying that a “darkness hovers over [him], dark guilt / and a dense pall overhangs his house” (E 382-83), accusing Orestes of personal revenge and threatening to push everyone back into the darkness of a patriarchal rule. This is the transition of change between the light to dark, good to bad, and new to old. The end of the Furies rage is marked when they begin to accept the compromise of Athena. She offers them the highest offering of all: honor and territory in Athens. The demand for vengeance fades, and is replaced by reasoning and thought. The light emerges literally and figuratively when the Furies announce “a wash of sunlight stream[ed] through the land” (E 916), describing that it “gleamed with the bursting flash of the sun.” (E 938) They have finally given up the dark, and are willing to let in the light. Ultimately, the complete shift is made to the bright, new way of justice when the Furies change from their black robes to “blood-red robes.” (E

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