- As one of the influential characters of the play, Agamemnon, what are some of the character traits that Clytemnestra possesses based on the acts she commits against her husband Agamemnon?
Foremost, one of the traits exuded by Clytemnestra in the play is manliness. Based on the documentation of Aeschylus, Clytemnestra has a manly nature irrespective of the fact that she is a woman. Indeed, Aeschylus provides that, “For these are the orders of a woman, who has a mind firm like a man…” (Aeschylus 10-11). Additionally, Clytemnestra is unrepentant. It is because of this particular trait that she is actually able to commit an act of murder on her husband, Agamemnon, without experiencing feelings of guilt and remorse for her deceased companion. Accordingly, her unrepentant character is evident when she calls Agamemnon a deceased corpse and proceeds on justifying her actions eventually after murdering him (Aeschylus 1404-1406). In addition, Clytemnestra also exemplifies a rancorous, odious and angry character. In the play, Agamemnon, Clytemnestra expresses considerable hatred for her husband because of the fact that he once sacrificed their initial daughter, Iphigenia.
Accordingly, the sacrifice took place under the instructions of the goddess, Artemis. According to Clytemnestra, Agamemnon “sacrificed his own daughter, my beloved child to whom I gave birth suffering great pains, just to control the Thracian winds with spells” (Aeschylus 1417-1418). In addition, Clytemnestra also exhibits significant anger towards her husband based on the association he had with one of his spoils from the Trojan War, Cassandra. It is because of the relationship between these two characters that Clytemnestra ends up murdering Agamemnon and Cassandra based on her claims that both were committing adultery and they deserved punishment for their sinful actions (Aeschylus 1431-1447). In addition, Clytemnestra is also judgmental and sanctimonious. This is in addition to the fact that she justifies her acts of murder as understandable and morally right regardless of the fact that she also possesses an adulterous relationship with the deceased’s cousin, Aegisthus.
- Does the Chorus play a conflicting role in judging Clytemnestra in Agamemnon with respect to the actions she committed against her husband and the maiden, Cassandra?
Indeed, the Chorus assumes a conflicting role in the play. This is in accordance to the prejudice it exudes against Clytemnestra. Even though her actions are unjustifiable on a moral scale, it is still apparent that the Chorus seems to focus on her actions differently from those committed by her husband. During the performance, the Chorus awakens when Clytemnestra executes Cassandra and Agamemnon through an axe. Based on this, the Chorus, as well as other characters, decides to perceive her in a negative view. At first, the Chorus perceives her as an outsider and a shameful criminal. Her actions against the two are unjustifiable regardless of the acts her husband committed against her. In addition, the Chorus adds that her crime will force the society of Argos, especially the men to shun her and coerce her to leave the city due to the gravity of her acts.
However, the views expressed by the Chorus against Clytemnestra appear biased. This is in accordance to the instance in which she describes them as hypocrites. As Clytemnestra attempts to credit her actions against her husband and the seer, the Chorus focuses on judging her. However, the same chorus does not exercise this consideration when Agamemnon decides to murder their daughter, Iphigenia as a sacrificial being to Artemis. Based on this, it is possible to assert that the Chorus exudes a double-standard approach since it completely ignored the actions committed by Agamemnon against Iphigenia but focuses considerably on judging the actions performed by Clytemnestra.
- What justification does Clytemnestra provide for the murder of her husband, Agamemnon?
Undeniably, Clytemnestra expresses certain justifications for the actions she commits. Foremost, Clytemnestra claims that her actions are justified based on the adulterous affair her husband was committing with Cassandra. To her, the murder of Agamemnon and Cassandra was justifiable since both engaged in an act of adultery and would therefore be capable of lying beside one another and share each other’s bed after their deaths. Interestingly, Clytemnestra expresses irony based on her reasons for committing murder against both Agamemnon and Cassandra. Even though she validates her sin, she is evidently engaging in an adulterous affair with Agamemnon’s cousin, Aegisthus. Regardless of this, the fact that her actions seem justifiable is with respect to the atrocities that her husband committed against her in terms of the murder of their child and engagement in an adulterous affair with another woman.
Additionally, Clytemnestra also justifies her actions in accordance to the murder of her firstborn daughter, Iphigenia. Based on this, the antagonist acts as a rancorous mother who is willing to reach extended lengths in order to avenge her daughter and account for the pain she felt. In order to illustrate her vengeful role, she states that, “With the sword he struck, with the sword he paid for his own act” (Agamemnon 1528-1529). From her statement, it is clear that Clytemnestra rationalizes her actions since she availed justice concerning the murder of her daughter.
Aeschylus. Agamemnon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.
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