Essay on The Eumenides versus the Bacchae

Essay on The Eumenides versus the Bacchae

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The conflict between the rational and the irrational is present in every person or situation. In Greek tragedies, this conflict is constantly present within the characters’ actions and decisions. Usually, there is always one character that will act rationally compared to the others and would try to fix the conflict. Both The Eumenides and The Bacchae depict the conflict between the rational and the irrational, yet the act and solution are presented differently. Whereas The Eumenides portrays it through killing the family by committing matricide and homicide, The Bacchae portrays it through killing the family by committing unconscious homicide driven by the desire of the forbidden.

The most powerful characters in The Eumenides, starting with the Furies, everything about them has a meaning. The Furies think of Orestes as an awful person, and are determined to capture Orestes for committing matricide. They do not symbolize peace, but revenge; they represent the application of the law without any further understanding. The Furies demonstrate this at the end of the play, in which they conform with a gift from Athena in order to stop arguing of what the solution turned out to be. Apollo is another important character who symbolizes revenge as well as order. By commanding Orestes to kill his mother or suffer the consequences, Apollo symbolizes the desire for revenge and order of rights. He believes that avenging the death of the king (Orestes’ father) and placing Orestes as the lawful heir to the throne is the right thing to do. As it has tradition to hand down the throne to the son rather than the wife when a king passes, Apollo wants to impose that order. He does not let Clytaemestra rule, for a queen who murders her husband and sends...

... middle of paper ... Semele, leading to Dionysus’s desire for revenge that resembles Clytaemestra’s motives. He wants his mother’s family to pay off their debts, making women get so drunk unconsciously and later tricking Pentheus to go see the forbidden. In this tragedy Euripides aspires to demonstrate how even desiring to see the forbidden can deceive the most rational man. Both the rational and irrational plays a part in every person’s decision; it is how one decides to act upon a situation and demonstrate towards which side he or she tends to favor. Whether it is like Pentheus, a rational man deceived by his “inner Dionysus” commits an irrational act that took his life away, or like Athena, who introduces a neutral trial that rationally decides the consequences and gravity of the conflict when everyone that when a conflict arises and neither side sees eye to eye, there should be.

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