Throughout the play, the audience is aware of impending doom that Agamemnon and his family face, while the characters themselves are largely oblivious to their fate. For example, when Agamemnon returns home from the Trojan War, his wife Clytemnestra welcomes him with open arms and lavish praise. However, the audience is aware that Clytemnestra is plotting revenge against him for sacrificing their daughter Iphigenia. This creates tension and anticipation as the audience watches Clytemnestra’s deception unfold, wondering when and how she will exact her revenge.
Another example of dramatic irony in the play is the character of Cassandra, the Trojan princess who is taken as a slave by Agamemnon. Cassandra is a prophetess who has been cursed by the god Apollo, and as a result, no one believes her prophecies. However, the audience is aware that her prophecies are true, and that she foresees Agamemnon’s death and the fall of his house. This creates a sense of frustration and tension as the audience watches Cassandra’s futile attempts to warn Agamemnon and the other characters, knowing that they will ultimately ignore her warnings.
The use of dramatic irony in “Agamemnon” creates a sense of inevitability and tragedy, as the audience knows that the characters are heading towards their downfall despite their ignorance. It also creates a sense of helplessness and frustration, as the audience watches the characters make mistakes that will lead to their destruction, unable to intervene or prevent their tragic fate.
Furthermore, the use of dramatic irony highlights the themes of fate and free will in the play. The characters are largely powerless to change their fate, as they are subject to the whims of the gods and the workings of fate. The audience, on the other hand, is aware of the characters’ fate and can see the ways in which their actions contribute to their downfall. This creates a sense of moral ambiguity, as the audience is left to question whether the characters are truly responsible for their fate or whether they are simply pawns in the hands of the gods.
In conclusion, the use of dramatic irony in “Agamemnon” is a powerful literary device that creates tension, anticipation, and a sense of inevitability. It highlights the themes of fate and free will in the play, and creates a sense of moral ambiguity as the audience is left to question the responsibility of the characters for their tragic fate. Through the use of dramatic irony, Aeschylus creates a timeless work of tragedy that continues to resonate with audiences today.