Electra

by: Sophocles

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Oh my friends, In times like these, Self-control has no meaning. Rules of reverence do not apply. Evil is a pressure that shapes us to itself.

This quotation is spoken by Electra to the chorus at the end of the Prologue; it concludes a speech in which Electra admits that her intense desire for revenge is both consuming and unwilled. She recognizes that she is compelled to act as she does, yet regardless she denies that she has any desire to stop acting as she does. In this quotation, she disavows "self-control" and "reverence," both strongholds of rationality, and surrenders herself to the pressures of evil, as if now they, and not she herself, will be the agents of her actions. Although her initial semblance of rationality and justice does not yet crumbled into the ravenous desire for violence she displays in the final scene, Electra forewarns the audience, the chorus, and herself of what is to come. Her self-awareness is unusual for a Sophoclean character and adds complexity to the ultimate revenge. That revenge, while it is desired by Electra, is yet seemingly beyond her control since she has, as articulated in this quotation, abandoned herself to the powerful pressures of evil that can cause an individual to act uncharacteristically. Some scholars have suggested that Electra loses her mind as the play progresses, but this quotation suggests that perhaps her irrationality is not a symptom of madness, but of the usurpation of the mind by evil.