female mask Questions and Discussion Topics:
Euripides’ Electra

Identify the incentive moment, climax, and resolution of this play. What is unusual about the resolution? Does the play conform to Aristotelian requirements for structure and character? Explain why or why not.

The focus of this play is more private and psychological than that of Aeschylus’ Oresteia, and its tone is much more realistic. In fact, the play has been described as an examination of morality and justice “from the inside” and a presentation of Electra and Orestes as “obsessive neurotics” (see Vermeule's introduction in your text). Analyze the play scene by scene from this perspective, examining the characterization and motivations of Electra and Orestes and the manner in which these are revealed to the audience. In what details is the story changed from the version presented by Aeschylus? What is the significance of these changes in terms of the theme and focus stressed by Euripides?

Euripides has chosen a very different setting from that employed by Aeschylus. What is the primary effect created by Euripides’ choice of setting? How is this related to Euripides’ invention of the farmer and his role in the play? to Orestes curious speech in lines 367-400 (pp. 25-26)? Does Euripides coordinate this sub-theme with the major theme of the play?

Are Electra and Orestes presented as universalized, representative figures or as unique individuals? How are the gods treated in this play? Do you think that Euripides presents a single, coherent vision of human life in this play?

November, 1999
Barbara F. McManus
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