Death is the end to the natural cycle of life and is represented as dark, melancholic and even menacing. The underworld is depicted as a murky and sinister realm where the dead are trapped in a world of eternal darkness. Ancient drama, however, defies the conventional perceptions and representations of death. Despite the foreboding associated with it, characters in ancient drama embrace death in its frightening glory, rather than face the repercussions of their actions, especially when their honor and pride are at stake. Deceit is also an integral part of ancient drama and characters, particularly women, fall prey to it and unwittingly unleash chaos that more often that, negatively impacts the lives of the characters. This paper demonstrates how gender biases can be interpreted from the depiction of death and the characters’ justifications of it in two of Sophocles’ plays – Ajax and Women of Trachis and also demonstrates how female deception leads to the death of the principal character(s).
In each of these plays, the protagonist is a woman who has a very independent mindset, but is limited by society in how much she is able to do for herself. For example, after Antigone buries Polynices, she tries to defend what she did to Creon. However, he refuses to listen to her because he doesn’t want to seem like he would listen to a woman (Sophocles 37). His refusal shows that men are supposed to be dominant over women and a man who listens to a woman is not masculine. It also represents the idea that during this time period, women have no valuable opinion. Additionally, in A Doll’s House, Nora is criticized for taking out the loan on her own, like when Mrs. Linden says, “Why, a wife can’t borrow without her husband’s consent!" (Ibsen 151). This criticism demonstrates the idea that women are unable to make their own decisions and decide things for themselves. It also shows the belief that only men have the sense to make a business deal, and w...
“Gender,” throughout the years has been defined and redefined by societies, and individuals. “Gender roles,” have, and still do contribute to these definitions. Literature contains prime examples of how gender roles were perceived in different time periods, showing readers the views of an author through the characters and their traits. Sophocles’ Antigone is a Greek tragedy, that heavily depicts the gender roles found in ancient Greek society, also providing insight into what would be seen as “normal” and “abnormal” behavior in relation to gender in Greece. In the play, Antigone, a daughter of the late King of Thebes, Oedipus, becomes distraught when she learns that her two brothers have killed each other, and furthermore, that her uncle and newfound king, Creon has forbidden the burial of one of her brothers.
In her essay on, “Athenian Women,” Sarah Ruden points out that Aristophanes in Lysistrata portray women as supportive of Athenian institutions and eager to save them. But she cautions, “To do this now they must flout law, religion, and every notion of public decency – and this is definitely no reflection on women’s attitudes, but mere satirical farce and fantasy” (Ruden 107). An important element of “satirical farce” in this spirit would be a heavy use of repetition to make people laugh at the weakness being satirized. One example would not be enough, and the audience might not be amused by less than three or four examples. So in important episodes that fill out the action of the play, we have 4 examples of women beating guards,
In The Oresteia, Aeschylus encourages the importance of the male role in society over that of the female. The entire trilogy can be seen as a subtle assertion of the superiority of men over women. Yet, the women create the real interest in the plays. Their characters are the incentive that makes everything occur. The characters of Clytaemnestra, Cassandra, and the goddess Athena can demonstrate this.
Examination of Dionysus's challenges should begin with The Bacchae's most obvious perversion of custom, the question of gender. As Dionysus indicates early in the play, the enraptured band of Bacchant followers is comprised only of females: "Every woman in Thebes-but the women only- / I drove from home" (35-36). Though Cadmus further illuminates the matter by raising the question, "Are we the only men / who will dance for Bacchus?" (195-196), the text offers no definitive explanation for why Dionysus calls solely upon the women. A superficial reading might suggest that Euripides attempted to portray the stereotypical "weaker sex" as the one "more susceptible to invasive passions than men, especially eros and daemonic possession," but more is probably at stake.
Euripdies' The Bacchae is known for its celebration of women's rebellion and patriarchial overthrow, claims which hold truth if not supremely. The Thebans, along with other women, pursue the rituals and culture of Dionysus’s cult which enacts their rebellion against men and the laws of their community. However, this motion to go aginst feminine norms is short lived as they lose power. When Agave comes to her epiphany, Dionysus is the one who is triumphant over Pentheus's death, not Agave or her sisters These women must be punished for their rebellion against both men and community. This female power is weakened and the rebellion muted in order to bring back social order and also to provide the story with a close. Female rebellion actually becomes oppressed through The Bacchae due to its conseqences and leading events of the play. This alludes to the message that women who do not follow traditional roles of femininity are subject to the destruction of an established society.
The contrast between men versus women is an important opposition in both plays. The women in the Greek society have no control of their life; the men are in control (Barlow 159). In The Bacchae Dionysus underminded the Greek society point view on women and empowers them. Pentheus is furious about Dionysus; he states in this first speech to his Grandfather Cadmus and Tiresias that the women have betrayed their houses to go off into the mountains to dance to Dionysus and are committing sexual acts (Bacchae 217-224). Pentheus is offended that an “effeminate looking stranger” has come into his land and is giving freedom to the women (353). There is a binary opposition between the way Greek society and Pentheus are treating the women (men) versus the way Dionysus treats them (women).
Over the course of time, the roles of men and women have changed dramatically. As women have increasingly gained more social recognition, they have also earned more significant roles in society. This change is clearly reflected in many works of literature, one of the most representative of which is Plautus's 191 B.C. drama Pseudolus, in which we meet the prostitute Phoenicium. Although the motivation behind nearly every action in the play, she is glimpsed only briefly, never speaks directly, and earns little respect from the male characters surrounding her, a situation that roughly parallels a woman's role in Roman society of that period. Women of the time, in other words, were to be seen and not heard. Their sole purpose was to please or to benefit men. As time passed, though, women earned more responsibility, allowing them to become stronger and hold more influence. The women who inspired Lope de Vega's early seventeenth-century drama Fuente Ovejuna, for instance, rose up against not only the male officials of their tiny village, but the cruel (male) dictator busy oppressing so much of Spain as a whole. The roles women play in literature have evolved correspondingly, and, by comparing The Epic of Gilgamesh, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and The Wife of Bath's Prologue, we can see that fictional women have just as increasingly as their real-word counterparts used gender differences as weapons against men.
The speech itself highlights women's subordinate status in ancient Greek society, especially in the public eye." When Medea points out that women, especially "foreign" women, "require some knowledge of magic and other covert arts to exert influence over their husbands in the bedroom," she argues for a kind of alternative power that women can enjoy. A power that remains invisible to men and unknown by society, yet sways each with unquestionable force. Medea also supplies a method for interpreting her own character towards the end of her speech (lines 251-257): we should read her history of exile as a metaphoric exaggeration of all women's alienation; in fact, her whole predicament, past and yet to come, can be read as an allegory of women's suffering and the heights of tragedy it may unleash if left unattended. Under this model of interpretation, Medea portrays the rebellion of women against their "wretchedness." Such a transparent social allegory may seem forced or clichéd in our own contemporary setting, but in Euripides' time it would have been revolutionary, as tragedy generally spoke to the sufferings of a generic (perhaps idealized) individual, rather than a group. It would be a mistake, however, to claim that Medea's speech elaborates a clearly progressive political message, as her concluding remarks appeal to women's natural talent for devious manipulation (line 414). While Euripides' play manifests many revolutionary political sentiments, its social criticisms remain sporadic, forming just a part of some of the many trains of thought he follows.
Many different interpretations can be derived from themes in Euripides's The Bacchae, most of which assume that, in order to punish the women of Thebes for their impudence, the god Dionysus drove them mad. However, there is evidence to believe that another factor played into this confrontation. Because of the trend of male dominance in Greek society, women suffered in oppression and bore a social stigma which led to their own vulnerability in becoming Dionysus's target. In essence, the Thebian women practically fostered Dionysian insanity through their longing to rebel against social norms. Their debilitating conditions as women prompted them to search for a way to transfigure themselves with male qualities in order to abandon their social subordination.
The Greek playwright, Euripides, is considered one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens. His individuality is attributed to the way he “pushes to the limits of what an audience can stand” . His masterpiece Medea , a fascinating classic centered on the Greek goddess Medea, is a prime example of this. During his time, Euripides was unpopular since he defied the commons themes of tragedies during the 430s B.C.E.; he instead introduced a nihilistic and disturbing tragedy focused on women, slaves and persons from the lower class. His mastery shines through as he guides the audience to sympathize with Medea even when she commits filicide, a seemingly horrendous act. He utilizes the Chorus, the Nurse, and the Children-which are all minor characters-to induce compassion for Medea, establish the development of her emotional state, and ascertain the importance of her pride. Although these characters guide the audience towards similar concepts, they represent a contradiction when it comes to the slaughter of the Children.
"Bacchae", by Euripides, talks about Dionysus (also called Bromius, Bacchus, or Evius), son of Zeus and a mortal woman, Semele, who came back to his homeland of Thebes to show everyone that he was a real god. His mother was killed while giving birth to him and her sisters spread rumors that she lied about her pregnancy. Therefore his family does not know about his existence. Dionysus's cousin Pentheus was not convinced that he was god and argued with him in spite of everyone around telling him to stop fighting with Dionysus. At the end of the play, his own mother killed Pentheus while she was at the state of being possessed by Bacchus; not knowing it was her son. Why does Pentheus get killed? This essay discusses three possible explanations for that.
Most people would define a great female protagonist as intelligent, strong minded and willing to fight for what she believes in. Both Bernarda Alba from Federico Garcia Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba and Medea by Euripides fit this description. One is a tyrannical mother who imposes her choices on her five daughters, the other is arguably the strongest non-Olympian woman in all of Greek mythology. If we take a closer look, we notice that these two characters have many things in common. From their positions of strength, to the masculine aspects of their personalities; from the way they deal with situations to the part they play in the deaths of their children. In this essay we will attempt to seek out their similarities, as well as discover how two playwrights, who wrote for distinct audiences millennia apart, could have created two women so alike.
Euripides’ style of work mostly focus on personal issues and dilemmas. He portrayed the flaws of humans and heros in his plays during ancient Greek, thus he was not a very popular writer during his time. As shown in one of his famous work, Medea, centralizes on the characters Medea and Jason and their broken marriage and erratic behaviors. Euripides use his main characters to express his opinion of Greek society during his time. In Medea, he uses Medea and Jason to express his concern of the disfunction of marriage, divorce, and vengeance. He reveals the flaws of Medea and Jason as he develops through the play. Medea and Jason made decisions that hurt each other, their marriage, and other victims. They justified their wrongdoings not because they were saving themselves, because they