Election Day is November 3rd! Make sure your voice is heard

Electra

Sophocles
Summary

Lines 1–444

Summary Lines 1–444

The mundane and dialogical first half of the prologue that deals with Orestes sharply contrasts with the lyrical and passionate second half, in which Electra sings her mournful monody. As evidence of her heightened emotion, she speaks not about things, as Orestes does, as much as to them: she calls on light, air, Hades, and Persephone as witnesses to her misery and as potential aids in exacting revenge. She addresses her father, too, expressing the depth of her pity at his unjust murder. Orestes, by contrast, demonstrates little emotion and speaks of it even less; nor does he address his feelings about his father's death. Orestes, it seems, has been driven to revenge more by Apollo's oracle than by deep emotion, unlike his sister, who is driven by her heart.

The parodos, or the song by which the chorus is introduced, is a lyric dialogue, or kommos, between Electra and the chorus. The chorus in a Greek tragedy is traditionally suspect of heightened emotion and accordingly they emotionally beseech Electra. Electra's response that she feels forced to act as she does—seemingly regardless of whether or not she actually wills it—demonstrates a high level of self-awareness on the part of the heroine and suggests that perhaps, just as Orestes might not comprehend quite what he has undertaken, Electra does not wholly approve of what she feels she must do. She invokes the concepts of justice and reverence again and again, as if she is the agent by which these fallen values might be restored, by whatever required brutal means.