Euripides’ Electra And Aristophanes' Clouds Essay

1452 words - 6 pages

Euripides’ Electra is a tragedy that encourages readers to consider the problematic nature of humanity’s response to injustice: its quest to make fair that which is unfair, to correct unjust actions, and to mark the fragile border between what is ethically correct and morally wrong. Aristophanes’ Clouds is a tragedy disguised as a comedy that illuminates Strepsiades’s profound disregard for justice, conduct, and the establishment of civilization. Underneath Aristophanes’ comedic approach lies a dark conclusion that alludes to a problem that civilization faces today: ignorance and its resistance to evolution. Electra adheres to its respective form as a tragedy while Aristophanes’ Clouds outgrows its comedic structure to form a darker, more serious conclusion.
Euripides establishes Electra as a character plagued by grief. In the beginning of the play, Electra introduces a “black night” that consumes her while “bearing this jar” (Electra 55-56). The tone she creates through personifying the “black night” identifies her grief-stricken approach to a preexisting tragedy and her susceptibility towards destined conflict. In addition to her uneasy mental state, Electra’s mother “casts Orestes and [her] from [their] own house” leading to her “spirit wearing thin, exiled from home and heritage” (Electra 65 and 218-219). Collectively, these misfortunes fuel Electra’s ambition to “arrange [her] mother’s death” (Electra 671). By justifying her mother’s death as an exchange for the adversities that Clytemnestra contributed to creating, Electra looses her ability to reason and act rationally. While preying on Clytemnestra, Electra asserts, “I delivered myself. I gave birth alone” (Electra 1164). These lines distinctly mark Electra’s insanity. As Clytemnestra expresses in her rebuttal, this phrase is the ultimate trigger that leads a mother to surrender motherhood. Additionally, Electra defies common law and supports her pursuit to murder her mother by clarifying, “this justice is ugly” (Electra 1088). In regarding justice as “ugly” and emphasizing that “ugly” pertains solely to this specific scenario, Electra reduces the rational decorum and noble nature of the conversation leading to Orestes’s primitive assault on Clytemnestra. Regardless of rationality, the Chorus Leader mentions, “I want to run from such unhappy proof of sacrifice” (Electra 1213-1216). Implicitly, the Chorus Leader’s observation bridges the argument that Euripides crafts Electra in order to contribute to the play’s intended form as a tragedy. Initially, Electra is grief stricken and bogged down by irresponsive gods and her family’s troublesome history. Rather than reducing Electra’s grief, Orestes’ arrival fuels her irrational and unnatural thinking. This sequence of events is parallel to Euripides’ formation of a tragedy because Electra continuously places faith into her revengeful plot as the play progresses rather than seeking to repair her unstable mental state. Although Electra is in...

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