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Electra Receiving the Ashes of her Brother, Orestes
by Jean-Baptiste Wicar
|Written by||Jean Giraudoux|
|Characters||Agamemnon, Iphigenia, Clytemnestra, Aegisthus, Orestes, Electra|
|Date premiered||13 May 1937|
|Place premiered||Théâtre de l'Athénée in Paris|
|Subject||Electra and her brother Orestes plot revenge against their mother Clytemnestra and stepfather Aegisthus for the murder of their father, Agamemnon|
|Setting||Mythological ancient Greece|
Electra (French title: Électre) is a two act play written in 1937 by French dramatist Jean Giraudoux. It was the first Giraudoux play to employ the staging of Louis Jouvet. Based on the classic myth of antiquity, Jean Giraudoux wrote perhaps his best play. Electra has a surprisingly tragic force, without losing the spirit and sparkling humor that made Jean Giraudoux one of the most important playwrights of the mid twentieth century.
- 1 Original productions
- 2 Plot summary
- 3 The quest for the truth
- 4 Characters
- 5 Explanation of text in a few points
- 6 Cast
- 7 External links
- 8 References
Agamemnon, The King of Argos, had sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to the gods. In revenge, his wife, Clytemnestra, assisted by her lover, Aegisthus, killed him on his return from the Trojan War. Orestes, the son was banished, but the second daughter Electra was allowed to remain: "She does nothing, says nothing. But she is there". As the play opens, Aegisthus wants to marry her to the palace gardener in order to deflect towards "the house of Théocathoclès anything that might cast an unfortunate light on the house of Atreus."
Electra, with the assistance of her easily dominated brother Orestes, who has returned from banishment, relentlessly seeks the murderer of her father, while feeling an implacable hatred for her mother. Eventually Electra and Orestes themselves are destroyed by the curse that follows the house of Atreus.
With many anachronistic changes, including the role of the bourgeois couple as a burlesque reflection of the tragic couple, Elektra is another example of the timelessness of the tragedy. Written in 1937, it would in effect be a "bourgeois tragedy", according to Jean Giraudoux himself.
The quest for the truth
This is the main theme of the play. Electra comes from the Greek Elektra which means "light". Electra is there to shed light on the events, to illuminate the truth. Thanks to her presence, many characters will reveal "their" truth, such as Agathe in Act II, 6. In addition, Electra and Aegisthus declare themselves throughout the play.
The character of the beggar (at once god, beggar and director) helps restore the truth. It is he who explains how the story unfolds, who recounts the murder of Agamemnon, and also that of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra.
The last scene shows Electra, in restoring the truth, cursed and dispossessed, decimating the city. The splendor of this truth was too violent. The last line, "It has a beautiful name, Narses, it is called the dawn" ends the play on a delicious note of ambiguity.
- Electra. As mentioned previously, it is really the central character. Daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, she hates her mother who killed her father with the help of her lover Aegisthus, who is now Regent to the throne. She awaits the arrival of Orestes in revenge.
- Orestes. Electra's brother, he was very young exile and returned to his family by appearing as a mere alien.
- Clytemnestra. Mother of Electra and Orestes, Agamemnon's widow and lover of Aegisthus, queen of Argos.
- Aegisthus. Regent, he holds the power in the city of Argos. The play begins on the consequences of his ideas: Electra married the gardener, and thus deter the Gods of their views on the line of Atreus.
- The Chairman. Second President of the court, he cares for his peace and opposes Aegisthus.
- Agatha. President's wife, she is young and pretty, and decides to deceive her husband.
- The gardener. Future husband of Electra, he looks after the garden of the palace. He belongs to the same family as the President.
- The Eumenides. Girls at the beginning of the play, they grow several years in a few hours. They are related to the gods and justice.
- The Beggar. Enigmatic character: ((Citation | Never has there been a beggar as perfect as a beggar, as rumor has it that this must be a God)).
- Narses. Friend of the Beggar.
- A young man
- A master
- The Butlers
- A groomsman
Explanation of text in a few points
Act 1, Scene 2
This double face of the palace and characters found in the room itself, since here we have included a scene from comedy to tragedy.
Contradictions between what Agathe and think what the president thinks
- The president believes that "life can be fun," Agathe added: "infinitely enjoyable.
- Agathe is no agreement on what that big word "adultery", she returned twice.
- It is, however, agree that a number of women in history as they have "saved the world from selfishness.
The mood of the President objected to the wisdom of the gardener
- The president uses empty phrases, but reflect his state of mind:
- His selfish happiness comes before everything else;
- As president of the court is first to suppress the scandal;
- For him, anything is better than to stir the mud to find the truth;
- Conscience do not worry much because he says it is very easy to forget the moral suffering.
- The gardener does not agree with the president: 'I do not understand you. "The president believes that there are" stories of women "while the gardener thinks rather" a conscience ".
Act 1 Scene 3
Aegisthus here answers a question from the President who asked what do you make a sign to the gods. Recall that Argos is a prosperous city in which high-wage, low prices and which long ago not spread any storm and no epidemic. What is the source of this prosperity and what is the way to govern Aegisthus?
Aegisthus, a tyrant
- It gathers all power in his hands (personal pronouns to first person singular).
- It determines the laws and their application as the courts are his helpers and approve an unjust justice.
- He gets involved in everything, even marriage and we see that individual freedoms are suppressed.
- Poets, painters, competent people never see their acknowledged merit because it is important for him to even out differences.
A lesson given by Aegisthus corridor
- It applies primarily to Elektra as we said the last words of the speech. It differs from the mass by his love of justice, by his passion for truth and its tendency to stir up the past. She prefers the moral values to the economic prosperity of Argos.
- It applies universally to men of all time. The anachronisms are numerous and proves the timelessness of the drama is taken to the gods and men but also the political strategies of the tyrant.
Act 1 scene 8
In this scene Orestes and Electra come face to face filled with the happiness of their reunion, but you realize pretty quickly Electra is a very possessive person who emits the need to recreate a brother face his own image.
Electra: a woman who dominates her possessive brother
- It does not address the experiences of Orestes, did not ask any questions, told him to shut up when he has everything to say.
- She gives him orders as shown by the use of the imperative.
- The first person pronouns predominate, as well as possessive adjectives.
- She never let him speak to the point that the impression of being stifled.
Orestes: Electra creation
- Electra as the God of Genesis a new model Orestes.
- Presence of verbs that refer to the creation ("call to life", "train", "shape").
- Orestes however, is the reincarnation of Agamemnon. It develops as a result of the Electra complex that brings the hatred of the mother and the father's love.
Act 2 scene 6 and Act 2 scene 8
The two women paint a portrait in which they express their hatred and disgust for their respective husbands. In both cases, they seem to release a weight which has crushed the silent too long because they have endured all kinds of humiliations.
The similar allegations against their husbands
- They had a tyrannical, impossible (pretentious, vain, naive, ...).
- Physically, they are pushing (ugly, old, ...).
- There is no love between them. "One gives without receiving any" and "the other was married by force."
- In both cases, the wives ridicule their husbands, are the portrait of a failed marriage and have only hatred and contempt for stupid husbands and even unspeakable cruelty.
The situation described by the characters rapidly extends to all couples
- Agatha, for example, moves from her own case to that of all the husbands and wives, as suggested by the passage of the "I" or "they".
- The vocabulary used in a timeless quality to the situation. We can note the presence of anachronisms (cigar, coffee, ...).
- We find frequent situations in the theater and especially in vaudeville.
Act 2 scene 7
Electra made it clear to Aegisthus and Clytemnestra that these are universal values as freedom, justice and fraternity course. For Elektra, Aegisthus has still not paid its debt and the defense of material values can not yield to moral values.
The metamorphosis of Aegisthus: a transfiguration
- Until then, his image is poor because those around him he is a perjurer, an infidel, a rival, a scoundrel.
- He himself described his speech as having been a hedonist, a pest and a cheat. He had no qualities that would be those of a king, he told himself that he is cowardly, false, selfish, ...
- It is now a new man who feels pure, strong, great patriot, ready to sacrifice body and soul to Argos, courageous, honest, independent, generous.
- It only lacks one thing, the only Electra can give him, the sense of duty.
Aegisthus becomes a king thanks to the Gods
- Loyalty is a gift from heaven: the gods offered Argos, towers, temples, ruins, its people.
- There is established a relationship between Aegisthus and the Gods, what they call the powers of the world or simply God.
- The Gods have decided the metamorphosis of Aegisthus and now dictate his behavior.
- Here we find the notion of divine right monarchy.
Act 2 scene 9
The murder of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus is told by the beggar at the same time he runs even with or slightly ahead, yet verbs are in the past which reminds us that this is an ancient legend we have long known the fate of two characters, tragic fate we know. It is Orestes who will act as guided by Electra which it is somehow avenging arm.
The murder of Clytemnestra: a matricide
- The vocabulary of the butcher gives him a dimension barbaric, savage and barbaric that we feel is felt by both Aegisthus by Orestes.
- Aegisthus not believe either his eyes or his ears. He gradually reflect what is happening: the beast that we bleed, we go to a real matricide.
- Orestes is like in a daze: he acts but he is terrified by her own gesture, striking at random, eyes closed. He personifies the blind fate which strikes indiscriminately the culprits.
The murder of Aegisthus: a tragedy
- His death seems unfair here because it is not him who killed Agamemnon.
- The one that leads to death is indeed Clytemnestra who became a burden to him that prevents him from fighting and to be in a better light.
- Has served Aegisthus Clytemnestra to kill Agamemnon. It was handled as Orestes was by Electra.
- Renee Devillers: Electra
- Gabrielle Dorziat: Clytemnestra
- Madeleine Ozeray: Agatha
- Raymone: Women Narses
- Martha Herlin: Fury
- Monique Mélinand: Fury
- Pezzani Denise: Fury
- Vera Perez: Little Fury
- Nicole Fitted Berny: Little Fury
- Clairette Fournier: Little Fury
- Louis Jouvet: The Beggar
- Pierre Renoir: Aegisthus
- Romain Bouquet: President
- Paul Cambo: Orestes
- Alfred Adam: The Gardener
- John Deninx: the young man
- Robert Bogar: Captain
- Maurice Castel: best man
- Julien Barrot: butler
- René Belloc: butler
- Andre Moreau: beggar
- Electra by Jean Giraudoux at the Internet off-Broadway Database
- literary Comments: major scenes in the play
- Bentley, Eric, The Modern Theatre, Volume 1, 5 Plays, edited by Eric Bentley, Anchor, January, 1955, ASIN B00150AB5S
- Giraudoux, Jean (1964), Three Plays, vol 2, Translated by Phyllis La Farge and Peter H. Judd, Hill and Wang, New York
- Cohen, Robert (1968), Jean Giraudoux; Three Faces of Destiny, p. 157, University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ISBN 0-226-11248-9
- Grossvogel, David I. (1958), 20th Century French Drama, p. 341, Columbia University Press, New York.
- Inskip, Donald, (1958), Jean Giraudoux, The Making of a Dramatist, p. 182, Oxford University Press, New York.