Discuss the portrayal of women in The Agamemnon

Essay by english_summer May 2004

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In The Agamemnon women are portrayed as strong and powerful. Clytaemestra rules Argos which she calls 'my city' while her husband Agamemnon is away at Troy, and the Chorus of Argive Elders show her 'reverence'. She manages to persuade Agamemnon to 'give way' and walk on the tapestry she spreads out for him showing she has power over him and in the end her 'strength of heart' leads to her being able to 'strike' Agamemnon down and kill him.

Cassandra also is shown to be strong, but in a different way. The Chorus call her 'much enduring' and say her 'heart is brave' showing that Aeschylus does not believe that only men can be strong and brave, but women can as well.

Women are also portrayed as untrustworthy and treacherous betrayers. Helen for example leaves her husband and child to run away with Paris the prince of Troy, causing the Trojan War to be 'waged for a woman'.

This is said by the Chorus and as it is one of their functions to direct audience sympathies it is clear that the audience is supposed to see that Helen is untrustworthy and to blame for the war. Later they call her the 'bride of spears and blood' and 'blood flower', more references to how she is to blame for the 'death of men and cities' through her betrayal.

This is shown in Clytaemestra's actions when she 'goes to bed with the wolf, when her proud lion ranges far away,' cheating on Agamemnon with Aegisthus. Also Clytaemestra performs the ultimate betrayal to Agamemnon when she 'Struck him down' and kills him. Cassandra's description of Clytaemestra as a 'viper, double-fanged' seems to fit the portrayal of women as treacherous perfectly.

It seems likely that in writing this Aeschylus is warning men to...