Themes Of Deception And Justice In "The Orestia" And "Leda And The Swan"

1496 words - 6 pages

There are several themes in common that are developed in The Oresteia and Leda and the Swan. I have chosen to focus on deception and justice. Deception and justice is central to both works. They show justice in many different forms, such as revenge, vengeance, divine justice and civil justice. Deception takes different forms as well, physical and verbal.The theme of deception is most obvious in Leda and the Swan. Here deception takes on physical form. Yeats uses a swan as the metaphor because of its natural grace and beauty;. Swans are not often associated with being birds of violence. One might envision a vulture attacking someone, but swans are thought of as birds of beauty and grace, and symbolize elegance and peacefulness. The action of the swan in this poem is the total opposite and one may find it ironic. This could imply the reason that Zeus chose this bird for his disguise: it would be easier to surprise and overwhelm Leda. Picture swans in your mind. You see the snow white feathers, the piercing eyes, and the powerful wings. These are extraordinary creatures often used to signify love and tenderness. On the surface, they appear tranquil and docile, yet their physical attributes are only a facade for their truly mean spirit. Swans are rather territorial animals who tend to be quite nasty when confronted with an undesirable situation. In "Leda and the Swan," the beauty of the swan is skin-deep as well. Despite having the glorious physical attributes of a swan he is also a vicious brute who acts out his male animalistic power over his female prey, demonstrating the raw male and female relationships in nature. Swan are huge birds, and as pointed out in the Internet site "The Swan and Leda" (a poem on the same subject as "Leda and the Swan") "Swans, unlike most birds, have external genitals" (1). Thus, the swan is a perfect animal for such a hideous crime as Zeus performs on Leda.In The Orestia, Clytemnestra's can be seen as deceitful. Instead of physical deceitfulness as in Leda and the Swan, she uses words to trick her husband. She talks about her love for him and says that she has laid out this great tapestry for him to walk on because of his greatness. It is clear to the audience that she does not love her husband, and that the tapestry is merely to fool him, to make him think that he is safe at home. In her speech Clytemnestra sneaks in a number of well placed and telling clues about her true feelings and intentions. She tells everyone that she feels no shame of her love for "the man". This could say two things: that she feels no shame about her adultery with Aegisthus, or that she feels no shame for what she is about to do. Clytemnestra also comments that if all the rumors of Agamemnon's death were true then he would "have more holes in him than a net" (33). This is curious because in a few moments she is about to kill her husband by stabbing him to death. Likewise, Clytemnestra states that she has been crying constantly and has no more...

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