Clytaemnestra's Power In Agamemnon Essay

1450 words - 6 pages

Agamemnon In "Agamemnon" by Aeschylus, Clytaemnestra is the character with the majority of the power because of her ability to manipulate the other characters. She is not influenced or swayed by Aegisthus to murder her husband. She kills to gain justice for her daughter's death, as she feels their law justifies her acts. Clytaemnestra manipulates the other characters into believing that she is weak, she toys with the other characters to further empower herself. In her mind, it is a benefit that she will gain more power over the kingdom and retain her concubine, Aegisthus. From the beginning, Clytaemnestra was a woman with power. Her first action in Agamemnon was to command. She was later described by the chorus of elderly men as "growing strong in her house, with no fear of the husband." (Line 151-152) The Chorus looked to her for guidance and protection, alluding to her as their "lone defender, single-minded queen." (Line 257-258) Her power was recognized by the Chorus, "We've come, Clytaemnestra. We respect your power. Right it is to honor the warlord's woman one he leaves the throne." (Lines 258-261) This line immediately sets up the fact that Clytaemnestra has gained power in Argos during Agamemnon's absence.It is in this first address to Clytaemnestra that we learn that power is a main aspect of her. When Clytaemnestra explains that she is lighting the alters because the war against Troy is over, which she knows because of the torch signals, she says that they are her "proof, my burning sign"¦the power my lord passed on from Troy to me!" (Line 318-319) This is one of the many examples of how Clytaemnestra was not given proper credit for her resourcefulness, and how her subjects sometimes looked down upon her. These feelings come from the customs of the culture where women were looked upon as inferior to men. Even the chorus, though it claims it respects her, mocks her behind her back. Thus, most characters in this play display different facades for the surrounding audience of people. Even though the Chorus did not initially believe her report about the victory at Troy, this does not compromise the respect and fear they feel for their queen. They justify their disbelief the easiest way they can, with the notion that women are easily swayed by gossip. Clearly, it was more their doubts about believing victory had come after ten years, rather than just their mistrust of woman that led them to their doubt.This is not to say that women were seen as equals to men, but her situation does not appear as bad as it was described. Clytaemnestra is not only seen as powerful in this encounter, but "full of self-command" (line 355) It is this description of her that compliments the knowledge that it is her evil scheming that leads to the murder of Agamemnon. Aeschylus sets up a very self-driven woman who prospers on her position of power. In "Agamemnon", the power that Clytaemnestra held was rooted in her...

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