Euripides’ Electra and Aristophanes' Clouds

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Euripides’ Electra is a tragedy that encourages readers to consider the problematic nature of humanity’s response to injustice: its quest to make fair that which is unfair, to correct unjust actions, and to mark the fragile border between what is ethically correct and morally wrong. Aristophanes’ Clouds is a tragedy disguised as a comedy that illuminates Strepsiades’s profound disregard for justice, conduct, and the establishment of civilization. Underneath Aristophanes’ comedic approach lies a dark conclusion that alludes to a problem that civilization faces today: ignorance and its resistance to evolution. Electra adheres to its respective form as a tragedy while Aristophanes’ Clouds outgrows its comedic structure to form a darker, more serious conclusion. Euripides establishes Electra as a character plagued by grief. In the beginning of the play, Electra introduces a “black night” that consumes her while “bearing this jar” (Electra 55-56). The tone she creates through personifying the “black night” identifies her grief-stricken approach to a preexisting tragedy and her susceptibility towards destined conflict. In addition to her uneasy mental state, Electra’s mother “casts Orestes and [her] from [their] own house” leading to her “spirit wearing thin, exiled from home and heritage” (Electra 65 and 218-219). Collectively, these misfortunes fuel Electra’s ambition to “arrange [her] mother’s death” (Electra 671). By justifying her mother’s death as an exchange for the adversities that Clytemnestra contributed to creating, Electra looses her ability to reason and act rationally. While preying on Clytemnestra, Electra asserts, “I delivered myself. I gave birth alone” (Electra 1164). These lines distinctly mark Electra’s insanity. A... ... middle of paper ... ...ution. These limitations lead Clouds to a dark ending that continues to plague civilization today. Does the inability to foresee progress, good or bad, create a dark ending to a tragedy? Aristophanes’ Clouds suggests that nature of ignorance leads to a claustrophobic ending, one that leaves readers pessimistic about the prospects of Strepsiades’ future. While, Euripides’ Electra ends with the full maturation of Electra allowing for a reader to foresee infinitely different directions that the characters’ lives could lead. Despite it’s comedic beginnings, Clouds evolves into a dark tragedy while Electra adheres to a tragic plot from beginning to end. Works Cited Aristophanes, and Jeff Henderson. Aristophanes' Clouds. Newburyport, MA: Focus Information Group, 1992. Print. Euripides, Janet Lembke, and Kenneth J. Reckford. Electra. New York: Oxford UP, 1994. Print.

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