Vengeance, Deceit, and Pride: Building the Human Condition in Agamemnon, Electra, and The Bacchae 12th Grade

From Jason to Perseus, Greek plays popularly depict righteous mortals with honorable qualities. The abundance of heroes in Greek mythology shows the preference of many playwrights to portray humans in a positive light. However, these paragons of virtue failed to realistically present the primordial state of humanity, one defined by immorality and selfishness. Unlike most tragedians of their time, Euripides and Aeschylus presented humans in their naturally flawed state, rarely idealizing characters in their plays. As a result, they never clearly identify clear protagonists in Agamemnon, Electra, and The Bacchae because every human demonstrates both moral and immoral characteristics. Throughout the three plays, Euripides and Aeschylus develop the characters of Clytemnestra, Electra, and Pentheus to represent humanity unfiltered by the ideal standards of morality through their characterization as vengeful, deceitful, and prideful figures.

In both Agamemnon and Electra, Aeschylus develops characters that reflect the vengeful nature of humankind. His portrayal of Clytemnestra as a malicious woman fueled by revenge reveals the innate evil of humanity. Throughout Agamemnon, Clytemnestra follows the eye-for-an-eye philosophy in...

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