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Critical Analysis Of The Character Of Clytemnestra in Aeschylus's Agamemnon

Aeschylus's greatness as a dramatist lies in creating life-like charay. So sharp was his insight and so human his judgement that his characters are never puppets. Caught in a cosmic flow they remain living and individual. They are not types of heroic grandeur representing an abstract quality.  They are living creatures of flesh and blood.
Clytemnestra was the daughter of leda Tyndoreos, the king of sparta. The wife of Agamemnon,  Clytemnestra was a true representative of the heroic age. In Aeschylus 'tragedy Agamemnon the character of clytemnestra is portrayed as strong willed woman. This characteristic is not necessarily typical of women of her time. As a result,  the reader must take a deeper look into the understanding of Clytemnestra. In this play she dominates the action. Her most important characteristic is, as the Watchman calls it, "male strength of heart." She is a bold woman, and her strength is evident on many occasions in the play.  Later in the play after Clytemnestra murders her husband Agamemnon an his concubine Cassandra, the Trojan princess, she reveals her driving force and has spurned all of her actions until this point.
Character of clytemnestra in aeschylus agamemnon

Critics have often compared Clytemnestra with Lady Macbeth. But this comparison is not apt. Clytemnestra had no remorse for what she had done. Unlike Lady Macbeth she was never hysterical. Her every step was measured. In both Agamemnon and Choephoroe, she appeared relentless and and remorseless. Essentially a women of action. Clytemnestra was extremely tongue - tied. She was never seen on the stage talking with Aegisthus about her plan of action. She was, for all practical purposes, self-sufficient. For ten years she managed the affairs of the state during her husband's absence, and she managed well. Always a little critical about her, even the Chorus could not comment upon her administration. 

Clytemnestra is seen by the 'Elders of Argos' (the chorus) as untrustworthy.  But although suspicious of her,  they still could not forsee the impending murders.  She words are plain but her meaning was hidden to all those around her. She more or less alludes to her plan of murder without fear of being detected.  Only the audience can seem to understand the double meaning in her words. Time and again in the play, her strength is demonstrated when she forces Agamemnon, Aegisthus, and the Elders of Argos to bend to her will.

Clytemnestra represents the best kind of excellence in the art of wickedness.  she is one of the greatest artful pretenders of the human history of oratory. She appears as the most artful in her speech and gestures. She is a wonderful lady, a mater-mind, a terrible conspirator, a crafty pretender and highly skilful in designing her speech. Her sherewdness is also shown by the way she coaxes her husband into submission. she wants him to walk on rich purple tapestries in the hopes that this would resent the gods and they will aid her in his murder". she does so by challenging his manhood, "Then let not blame of men make you ashamed." She is  basically calling him a "chicken". He gives in and takes off his sandals and walks on the tapestries even thought he fears that it may offend the gods.

Clytemnestra single -handedly plots the murder of Agamemnon and. Cassandra.  When she is successful I'm taking away their lives she professes it loudly. " For me,  I have had long enough to prepare this wrestle for victory,  though it has come at last. I stand where I struck, over the finished work " According to Clytemnestra, she believes that she is doing right,  "an  offering of thanks to the nether god, to Hades, safe keeper of the dead." The Chorus threatened to cast her out in exile, but she asked why  she must be banished for killing the very person who sacrificed her child, which in her own opinion was not necessary.  With this the Elders of Argos cannot argue but they do warn, "You shall find yourself friendless and pay retaliatory storke for storke." But Clytemnestra with her husband was in the will of the gods double murder by stating how her husband was unfaithful with many women.  Clytemnestra believes that she  was in the will of the gods because she was seeking revenge not only for sacrificed daughter, but also for Agamemnon's cousins (the brothers of Aegisthus, Clytemnestra's lover). She was carrying out punishment for his broken hearted mother whose rage encouraged by her culture drove her to kill her husband and his concubine. And with this same tradition of revenge for one act to another, she too will face a day when she is killed for revenge by her son Orestes, and the cycle will continue.

Clytemnestra's entry after Agamemnon's death is majestic. She is now the king, the tyrant,  with no need to say things to match the time. What she says is shameful, but she is not ashamed of it. Like an able general she had prepared her ground. Killing of one's husband is unethical but what has been done needs to be justified and that too in the same way that Agamemnon had justified the sacking of Troy difference being that her grievance and its redressal through revenge is more personal. Clytemnestra never loses her royal dignity as the Chorus and Aegisthus gets locked in a verbal quarrel that is about to turn to a serious civil strife, she intervenes like Lady Macbeth who could only in her sleepwalking pathetically cry out to her husband to stop more bloodshed,  Clytemnestra gives the order to stop violence like a monarch. To conclude,  Clytemnestra is perhaps the most fully drawn among the characters in Oresteian Ttrilogy. by presenting her with a motive and giving her the necessary speeches,  she is at best a heroine in the heroic mode, who somehow out of personal grievance committed a crime that would affect civic matters.


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