To most readers, the women of The Orestia are evil and vindictive, a disgrace to all chaste and righteous women. Aeschylus portrayed women as equals to men, which was not the opinion of most Greeks at the time. Although he showed some of his women characters as evil, he granted them power, and emasculated the men around them. Unlike Homer, the women of Aeschylus show both ranges of emotions, both the good and the bad. A woman portrayed as a villain may be thought of negatively, but the fact that a female is allowed to be the villain, to take action, and leave other men helpless to the choices that she makes, it is a great step. In the time of the Greeks, a woman was either victimized by the male world around her, or victimized other males to hold a place in the world. Aeschylus made his women characters unique for his time but relevant to ours, since all the bad and evil characteristics of women then are mostly recognized as strength and intellect. This theme is mostly clearly shown through Clymanestra.
Clymanestra was not an evil character, but rather a misunderstood one. Woman of today could perfectly relate to her situation. For example, Clymanestra was like a housewife, who ran her family while her husband was off focused on his job, working overtime, even when he didn?t need the money, leaving her needs totally unattended to. The husband talked about his work life like he was the gear that everything revolves around, perhaps even talks about the women that worship him for his skills, or at worst, sleeps with his secretary. He sacrificed spending time with his children, even missed his daughter?s first ballet recital, so that he could kiss up to the bos...
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All in all, the strong women in Aeschylus were a man?s nightmare, but the fulfillment of a woman?s dream. Clymanestra was the type of woman hated in Greece as a she-devil tyrant, but in the present, the kind of woman who would have been a very effective and respected politician who could keep her own in a man?s world. Aeschylus clearly showed that for a woman, it was nobler to take control of one?s life, be independent, and die, than to ride the rivers of passiveness, watch the world float by without taking any action to change one?s fate, and live a fruitless life. Clymanestra was not just another ?evil? woman, but could be looked at as a role model for the feminist movement. She took control of sexuality, of her kingdom, of her children, and her marriage.
Aeschylus. Oresteia. Trans. Peter Meineck. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1998.
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