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ARISTOTELIAN TRAGEDY IN EURIPIDES ELECTRA

The death of a mother brought about by her own children is the tragedy in Euripides
drama, Electra. It is an incident that no one would want to occur to his or her own family but is
still possible to happen in reality when members could not anymore bear their differences and
when hatred among one another reaches its limit.

Electra sought revenge for the death of her father, Agamemnon, that is caused by her own
mother, Clytemnestra, and her mothers new husband, Aegisthus. Aside from the great love she
had for her father and exiled brother, another motivation for Electras thirst for revenge is the
fact that she was separated from the luxurious life she was used to having. Raised in a noble
family, she was married off to a peasant and was forced to experience poverty as her stepfather
feared that she would only use a powerful husband to dethrone him. Although she was
appreciative of her husbands kindness, her hatred to being casted away from her home was very
evident from her speech. All of these sorrows added up and intensified Electras resentment
towards her mother until finally she was able to kill her with the help of Orestes, her long lost
brother. Electras tragic flaw lies in the deep grudge she held against her mother as the death of
her father made her life miserable. Although her mother did it because Iphigenia, another
daughter, was brought to death by Agamemnon, Electra would not see this as justification.

Electra, because of her determination to kill her own mother and stepfather, may be
characterized as someone who was brave, confident, and full of certainty. However, she also
demonstrated inconsistencies in her strong-willed attitude, which is another characteristic of a
tragic hero/heroine. While lamenting on the sorrows of her life, her brother, pretending to be a
messenger, suddenly appeared and Electra showed fear and panic which she had not shown
earlier in the story. Also, no matter how much she wanted to see her brother, she would not
believe that it was him who appeared until after some evidences were presented by the old man.
She also showed doubt when Orestes went to kill Aegisthus and would not send a word of
victory until after a while. She thought that her brother died and would not believe the messenger
he sent to tell her of his victory. Electra is a woman full of determination and will and yet
doubtful and somehow easy to lose hope. She did not trust easily which could be caused by the
betrayal that her own mother committed against the family.

Another inconsistency in Electras character is the feeling of guilt she had after killing
her mother. She had been planning that for a very long time. When Orestes lost confidence in
killing his own mother, Electra persuaded him by reminding him of the unjust death of their
father and that it was in the oracle that he will kill their mother. To her, it was a plan she had
been waiting for and wanting to execute and she had not shown any sign of giving up. But then,
after killing Clytemnestra, the two realized the horror of what they did and actually felt
miserable. This feeling of guilt possessed by Electra and Orestes could be felt as they narrated
how the two of them killed their mother. This remorse may be deemed as an anagnorisis, the
recognition of the severity of the deed they committed. It was followed by peripeteia, a sudden
change to the fortune of not only Electra but also of Orestes. After their long separation, they had
a joyful reunion. They slew their mother and Aegisthus and so were able to attain revenge for
their fathers death and the misfortunes the two of them dealt with. However, they had to be
separated again as punishment. Electra was to be married to Pylades and leave Argos while
Orestes would have to be pursued by the furies until his trial in Athens.

Electra is indeed a tragic character who possessed too much love for her father, her
brother, and herself, and too much hate for her mother and her stepfather. She was a dutiful
daughter to her father but a rebellious one to her mother. The tragedy of her life affected not only
herself but that of her own brother. It was justice that they were seeking when they murdered
their mother but that purpose could not erase the wrongness of their actions. In the end, the two
of them were punished which they accepted wholeheartedly.