The Thematic Purpose of the Powerless Underclass in Agamemnon
Marx defines the "underclass" as a social group, conscious of itself, that is being oppressed and exploited by the ruling class and thus possesses a common hostility towards this higher class. This concept is reflected in various literature from throughout history and can also be seen in modern societies all around the world. In Greek drama the powerless underclass is, for the most part, disregarded and seen as a mass without individual identities. Yet, in both Greek literature and our contemporary society the lower classes serve very significant purposes. Aeschylus' Agamemnon, in which Clytemnestra murders her husband, Agamemnon, upon his return from the battle of Troy, features an extremely important and meaningful underclass. Besides the simple function of narrating the background of the play, the powerless underclass in Agamemnon, represented by the chorus and the watchman, also serves several important thematic purposes, namely portraying both the disregarded individual and the oppressed masses, as well as emphasizing negative aspects of the main characters by offering a sharp contrast.
One of the purposes of the underclass is that it reflects the situation of the disregarded individuals who lack the power to...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 771 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 5183 literature essays, 1578 sample college application essays, 204 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in