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MonkeyNotes-Electra by Euripides
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Theme of Murder and Revenge

The theme of murder and revenge is a major theme. Agamemnon has killed Iphigenia as a sacrifice, so that his sister Helen may have a happy and peaceful married life. Then he brought Cassandra as his concubine. This has led to Clymenestra and her lover Agamemnon murdering him. Electra burns with revenge. She wishes that Clymenestra and Aegisthus were killed, in order to revenge the murder of her father, and to a lesser extent the injustice done to her and her brother Orestes.


The Theme of Repentance

Although this theme occurs towards the end of the novel and is a minor theme, it is important. After Clymenestra is killed, Electra and Orestes repent intensely. They are unable to repair their heinous action, though they realize the horror of her murder. The intensity of tragedy is seen in their sorrow and repentance.

Theme of Celibacy

Electra is married to a peasant. He never approaches her in bed as he has tremendous respect for her ancestors. He does not feel worthy of her. Thus she has to live a life of celibacy though she is married. She says that she cannot mix with wives being a virgin herself.

Theme of Supernatural

This theme too plays an important role in the ultimate tragedy of matricide committed by Orestes. Through Apollo’s oracle he is ordered to kill his mother. The Dioscuri (sons of Zeus) appear to Electra and Orestes. They are not willing to overlook or forgive their crime.

Theme of Sincerity

An old servant of King Agamemnon saves the life of Orestes by taking him away from the palace, so that he is safely brought up by Phocis.

Theme of Poverty and Riches

Electra, who was once a princess of Troy is married to a humble peasant and lives in absolute poverty. Queen Clymenestra lives in absolute luxury and comfort in the palace with Aegisthus. The life-styles of the two are in dire contrast.


The mood throughout the play is tragic. It begins with revenge as well as suffering. Right from the beginning of the play, we find that Electra suffers in poverty. She is married to a poor peasant. Her brother lives in exile. They meet, and their aim is to avenge the death of their father and the injustice done to them. Finally Orestes kills his mother and thereafter the mood changes to that of sorrow and intense repentance. Their sorrow is intensified by the fact that they cannot undo or repair the heinous act, which they have committed. The atmosphere becomes very emotional towards the end of the play and the tragedy is intensified.

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