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Psycho-analytical interpretation of Electra
Psycho-Analytical study of Electra
Research has been done by various scholars to interpret certain literary works from the psychoanalytical point of view. Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein and a few others have studied and interpreted Electra.
The psychoanalytical reasons for the murders in the play are more than revenge alone. The child experiences conflicts right from birth. There is a conflict between loving impulses and destructive ones. There is a struggle between life and death instincts. The motherís capacity to feed is a source of admiration for the child. Yet at the same time, it is a source of envy. This envy makes the child want to destroy her creativeness on which the infant depends for its own survival. There is envy of the father too because of his capability and potency. When this envy dominates the adult, he/she may consciously or unconsciously wish for the elimination of the mother or father or both. This is applicable to Electra and Orestes. Envy is primarily directed towards the motherís breast. One of the effects of this strong envy is to make the parent helpless. In Electra, Clymenestra shows her breast to her children when she pleads for her life, hoping that they will spare her realizing that she fed and looked after them when they were infants. But it is of no avail. According to Melanie Klein, it is not only revenge and Apolloís oracle, but also envy at the deep unconscious level that makes Orestes kill his mother.
According to Melanie Klein, Apolloís hatred for women is seen in his command to Orestes to kill his mother. In Orestes too, an inverted Oedipus complex is seen to the extent that he is willing to obey the oracle without reasoning or analyzing how evil the order is. The inverted Oedipus complex is increased due to the absence of the father and/or by his neglect of the son. However, it is worthwhile to note that Orestesí love sympathy and admiration for his elder sister indicates a positive attitude towards the mother figure. Thus we can infer that some signs of direct Oedipus complex are not altogether absent. Oedipus situation can be turned towards another person who is a father figure. In case of Orestes, his Oedipal feelings turned towards Aegisthus. In case of Hamlet hatred was directed towards his uncle.