The 2017/2018 Season

After the Show

ElectraThe Back Story

The story of Electra begins many years after her family has been fractured by the murder of her father, King Agamemnon. The King was also a Greek general. During the Trojan War, he needed good winds to sail his ships to battle. He prayed to the Gods and was told that, in order to get good winds, he had to sacrifice his eldest daughter, Iphigenia. He killed her in response to this order and this greatly upset his wife, Queen Clytemnestra. When he returned from battle ten years later, the Queen had taken a lover, Aegisthus, and together they murdered him.

Agamemnon came from generations of kings, all of whom made uneasy alliances with the gods. In fact, long before Agamemnon, King Tantalus taunted the gods at a banquet, at which he served the flesh of his own son. That action triggered a curse from the gods that descended upon the family for all of time. 

Discussion questions

  • How might Electra and Orestes break their family’s curse? Do you think there exists a way out of the pattern of revenge?
  • At the end of the play, the two gods proclaim that Clytemnestra has been justly punished but that her murderers (Orestes, in particular) have not acted justly. What do you think they mean by this statement?
  • Who is your favorite character in the play? Who is your least favorite character in the play? Explain why!
  • Orestes faces a dilemma in the play—to follow his instincts to not murder his mother, or to obey Apollo. Why do you think Apollo tells Orestes to seek revenge?