35 pages 1 hour read



Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 409

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Character Analysis


When the play opens, Orestes is in a state of deep grief, tormented by remorse and descending into madness. According to him and Electra, Orestes is hounded by the Furies, but Euripides does not make them manifest on the stage. They are visions that only Orestes can see, calling into question Euripides’s belief in divine forces. Whether the Furies are present or it is an excuse for Orestes’s madness is never directly addressed within the play. As events escalate, they stop being mentioned.

Though Orestes originally expresses pangs of conscience for murdering his mother, his interactions with Menelaus and Tyndareus embitter him. He is angry that Menelaus will not promise to use force, even if Menelaus does not have the power to see such promises through. The more strongly Tyndareus objects to Orestes’s crime, the more he seems to attempt to justify himself, disregarding the options Tyndareus offers and repeatedly blaming Apollo’s order. By the time Orestes returns from his attempted defense at the Argive council, he is in a state of rage so extreme that he no longer feels remorse, cannot feel a sense of justice, and loses all pity for victims of suffering. He is willing to do anything to punish his perceived enemies, including commit more murders, even of those who have done him no harm, notably Hermione.