35 pages 1 hour read



Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 409

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Important Quotes

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“There is no form of anguish with a name—

no suffering, no fate, no fall

inflicted by heaven, however terrible—

whose burden human nature could not bear.”

(Lines 1-4, Page 140)

Electra delivers what serves as the play’s prologue, an introduction to its characters and concerns. These four lines are the first she speaks, and they reflect a concept central in Greek thought: Suffering, like pleasure and reward, comes from the gods. Humans have no choice but to endure whatever happens, whether they can understand it or not.

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“The son of Tantalus in turn was Pelops,

father of Atreus for whom the weaving Fates

wove the threads of strife, a war with his own brother,


(Lines 11-13, Page 140)

In this excerpt from Electra’s opening speech, she recounts the curse on her ancestral line, which is again attributed to divine forces, in this case the work of the Fates. In Greek mythology, they are depicted as weavers who shape the course of each human life. By this logic, suffering comes from the will of gods.

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“All of us his children

by that one mother, wickedest of women,

who snared her husband in the meshes of a net

and murdered him.

I leave it to the world

to consider her motive. It is not topic for a maiden like myself.”

(Lines 23-27, Page 141)

Electra says that she will not speculate on her mother’s motives for murdering her father. Later in the play, Orestes will claim that his mother killed his father in order to cover up her own crime of infidelity. Audiences familiar with the larger body of Greek myth would likely have been aware of another possible motive for Clytemnestra, which is that Agamemnon sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia at the goddess Artemis’s demand. This could suggest a revenge motive for Clytemnestra, lending tacit support to the idea that seeking revenge rather than justice feeds a cycle of destruction.