Electra (ee-LEHK-truh), the daughter of Clytemnestra and the murdered king Agamemnon. Consumed by grief for her dead father, Electra has dedicated herself to perpetuating his memory by observing daily the appropriate rites for the dead, hoping that eventfully, when her brother Orestes returns, she can assist him in exacting rightful revenge. In the meantime, humiliated and abused by her mother and Aegisthus, she has lived abjectly in the palace like the lowest of servants. She is sustained through her suffering by wrathful hatred and graphic fantasies of vengeance, which she frequently expresses openly to those around her. Confronting her sister Chrysothemis, she screams out contempt for her complacent acceptance of injustice and asserts her own independent will to resist. With her mother, after a pretense of cordiality, she unleashes her hatred in furious words, threatening her with eventual terror and death. When Orestes at last returns, she is unable at first to recognize him; once his identity is established, she rejoices at his determination to punish the criminals immediately. Her joy is expressed in a frenzied dance that she performs while her brother slaughters the guilty within the palace. She then falls to the floor and remains rigid, probably also dead, her extreme exultation having likely cost her her life.
Clytemnestra (kli-tehm-NEHS-truh), the widow of Agamemnon and mother of Electra, Chrysothemis, and Orestes. She is now the wife of Aegisthus. After helping her lover, Aegisthus, to slay her husband years before, she sent her son into exile, forbade her daughters to marry, and treated them like...
(The entire section is 712 words.)