Agamemnon 2

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Agamemnon’s Clytemnestra Essay, Research Paper Analysis of Clytemnestra’s Character in Agamemnon In Aeschylus’ tragedy Agamemnon the character of Clytemnestra is portrayed as strong willed woman. This characteristic is not necessarily typical of women of her time. As a result, the reader must take a deeper look into the understanding of Clytemnestra. In Agamemnon she dominates the action. Her most important characteristic is like the watchman calls it, “male strength of heart.” She is a strong woman, and her strength is evident on many occasions is the play. Later in the play after Clytemnestra murders her husband, Agamemnon, and his concubine, Cassandra, she reveals her driving force and was has spurned all of her actions until this point. Clytemnestra is seen by

the Elders of Argos (the Chorus) as untrustworthy and although suspicious of her they still could not foresee the impending murders. Her words are plain but her meaning hidden to all those around her. She more or less alludes to her plan of murder without fear of being detected. Only the audience can seem to understand the double meaning in her words. One example of how Clytemnestra hides meanings in otherwise plain words is stated in her hope that Agamemnon and his soldiers do not commit any sacrilege in Troy that might offend the gods. Now must they pay due respect to the gods that inhabit the town, the gods of the conquered land, or their victory may end in their own destruction after all. Too soon for their safety, the soldiery, seized with greed, may yield to their

covetousness and lay hands on forbidden spoil. They have still to bring themselves home, have still the backward arm of the double course to make. And if no sin against heaven rest on the returning host, there is the wrong of the dead that watches. Evil may find accomplishment, although it fall not at once. This can be interpreted in two ways. The first being that her wish for Agamemnon to return safely is so she may kill him herself. The second, is that of sarcasm. Perhaps she really does wish for Agamemnon to upset the gods. That way when she murders him she will divine sanction. Another instance that there is a double meaning in her words is in her pleadings to the herald to take this message back to Agamemnon, “let him come with speed to the people that love him, come to

find in his home the wife faithful, even such as he left her, a very house-dog, loyal to one and an enemy to his foes?” The audience knows this to be untrue because not only has she not been faithful, but the person she was unfaithful with is the rival to Agamemnon’s crown, his cousin Aegisthus. The Chorus’ distrust in her is shown by their comment to the herald in which they are trying to explain her boastful and yet sarcastic attitude, “She speaks thus to teach you; to those who clearly can discern, her words are hypocrisy.” Time and again in the play her strength is demonstrated when she forces Agamemnon, Aegisthus, and the Elders of Argos to bend to her will. For example, she influences the Elders to sacrifice to the gods for Agamemnon’s safe return and

temporarily wins their trust and support. In fact they sing her praises for suggesting it by saying, “Lady, no man could speak more kindly wisdom than you. For my part, after the sure proof heard from you, my purpose is now to give our thanks to the gods, who have wrought a return in full for all the pains.” Her shrewdness is also shown by the way she coaxes her husband into submission. She wants him to walk on rich purple tapestries in hopes that this would anger the gods and they will aid her in his murder. She does so by challenging his manhood like in the statement, “Then let not blame of men make you ashamed.” In which she is basically calling him a “chicken”. He gives in and takes off his sandals and walks on the tapestries even though he fears it may not please