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Points Of View Essay

1222 words - 5 pages

Points of View Aeschylus faces off with Euripides in a dramatic contest and is declared the victor. The decision is one of cosmetics more than substance. Aeschylus wrote plays that appealed to the people of Athens. The Oresteia is a story with strong characters faced with difficult decisions in which justice prevails. On the other hand, Euripides wrote plays that were more realistic, such as The Electra, which reveals the weakness of men and women. That both authors wrote plays dealing with the same story helps us to see the differences in their opinions and styles.The Oresteia probably was favoured more by the Athenian people because of some key factors. One of these is character portrayal. Aeschylus made his heroes strong minded and full of resolve, whereas Euripides tended to show his characters' shortcomings. An example of this is the character of Orestes. In The Libation Bearers, Orestes comes upon the scene and makes himself known to his sister immediately and quickly reveals his plot to kill their father's murderers. He is in control of the situation and prepared to kill both his mother and her lover: "Our Fury who is never starved for blood shall drink/ for the third time a cupful of unwatered blood" (Libation Bearers, Lines 577-578). Orestes would have appealed to the Athenian populace because of his strength and his desire to avenge the murder of his father and fulfill the oracle of Apollo. In The Electra, Euripides creates a very different personality for Orestes than does Aeschylus. Orestes does not burst onto the scene and immediately make himself known to his sister. He actually does not willingly reveal himself. It is not until his old tutor comes and recognises him that he admits to Electra that he is her brother. This must have distressed an Athenian audience to see the son of Agamemnon hiding his identity from his sister for quite a long tract of dialogue. When his identity is know, it must have been very disheartening to see the former Greek leader's son being so indecisive. Orestes cannot seem to think or act for himself: "Whom shall I make/ my ally? Shall I act by night or by day? What path shall I/ take against my foes?" (Electra, Lines 599-601). Oresetes' weak will shows itself again when he sees his mother coming and cries out: "Orestes: Hold! We must revise our plan./ Electra: What is it? Do you see reinforcements from Mycenae?/ Orestes: No, but the mother, the woman that gave me/ birth" (Electra, Lines 963-967). Orestes reluctantly slays his mother only after a great deal of pushing by his anxious sister. This scene is very different from Aeschylus', where Orestes needs no such prodding from his sister to avenge their father's murder.Electra is another character that probably did not win Euripides any votes from his audience. In The Oresteia, Electra lives in the same house as her mother and holds the noble position of a king's daughter even though her father is dead. In Euripedes' version of the story, Electra was cast...

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