Clytemnestra is one of the central characters in the ancient Greek tragedy, “Agamemnon” by Aeschylus. She is the wife of Agamemnon, the king of Argos, and plays a pivotal role in the play’s plot and themes. Clytemnestra is portrayed as a complex and multifaceted character, capable of both great love and immense fury.
At the beginning of the play, Clytemnestra is filled with grief and anger at the prolonged absence of her husband, Agamemnon, who has been away fighting in the Trojan War for ten years. She is deeply hurt by his betrayal, as he had sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia in order to gain favorable winds for the voyage to Troy. This act has caused Clytemnestra to harbor a deep resentment towards Agamemnon and fuels her desire for revenge.
Despite her initial sorrow, Clytemnestra shows strength and intelligence throughout the play. She is cunning and manipulative, carefully planning and executing her revenge against Agamemnon. She aligns herself with Aegisthus, her lover and cousin, and together they plot to kill Agamemnon upon his return. Clytemnestra’s character is complex in that she is both a victim of Agamemnon’s past actions and a perpetrator of violence herself.
As the play progresses, Clytemnestra’s character becomes increasingly ruthless and calculating. She revels in her power and takes pleasure in her revenge against Agamemnon, even going so far as to boast about her actions to the chorus. However, her character is not entirely one-dimensional, as she also expresses a deep love for her children, particularly her son Orestes, whom she hopes will one day avenge her own father’s death.
Clytemnestra’s character is also shaped by her relationships with the other characters in the play. Her marriage to Agamemnon is characterized by tension and mistrust, and her affair with Aegisthus is a source of both comfort and danger. Her interactions with the chorus reveal her growing isolation and her desire for control, as she becomes more and more paranoid about the possibility of someone discovering her plot.
In conclusion, Clytemnestra is a complex and multi-dimensional character in “Agamemnon”. She is both a victim of Agamemnon’s past actions and a perpetrator of violence, a loving mother and a ruthless murderer. Her character is defined by her strength, intelligence, and cunning, as well as her relationships with the other characters in the play. Clytemnestra’s tragic fate ultimately serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of revenge and the corrupting influence of power.