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Throughout time there has been a universal question that does not yet yield a universal answer: whether or not it is right to avenge the murder of another by killing the killers. In both “The Haunted,” the third play from Eugene O’ Neill’s trilogy
“Morning Becomes Electra,” and “Eumenides,” the third play from Aeschylus’ trilogy “The Oresteia,” the respective sons are directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of their mothers after their mothers intentionally murder their fathers. In “Eumenides,” the third play of The Oresteia Trilogy,” Orestes kills his mother Clytemnestra in cold blood and feels no remorse for his action. In “The Haunted,” the third play in “Morning Becomes Electra,” Orin expresses incredible guilt for the death of his mother, Christine even though he does not physically kill her himself. It is clear that Orestes believes that it is right to avenge the killing of another through the death of the killer and that Orin regrets his actions and does not believe vigilance is justified.
In Aeschylus’ “Eumenides,” Orestes believes that his murdering of his mother is well justified by the fact that she murdered his father. Orestes is completely guilt-free after the murder and feels like he did the right thing. Orestes did not have a close relationship with his mother, and resented her for sending him away. Orestes feels that it is his responsibility to avenge his father’s death. Though Orestes is put on trial for the murder of his mother, he continues to proclaim that the murder of his mother was justified, claiming he was encouraged by the god Apollo to murder his father. Cassandra, who had been cursed by Apollo to be a seer who would never be believed, envisions the death of Agamemnon and herself. It is in this vision that she sees an avenger who will come about and bring justice to the murdered victims: “ We will die, but not without some honor from the gods. There will come another to avenge us, born to kill his mother, born his father’s champion. The gods have sworn a monumental oath: as his father lies upon the ground he draws him home with power like a prayer.” This vision proves to be very important when speaking about the innocence of Orestes and his heroism as well. Before the incident even takes place, we know that the gods have destined Orestes to avenge his father’s death.
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It is clear that Orin and Orestes had extremely different views on whether it was acceptable to avenge the death of their murdered father by “killing” their mother. Orin’s incredible guilt and Orestes lack of any remorse show how very different their reactions to their involvement in the deaths of their mothers are. It is evident that death can easily be avenged by the death of the killers, yet once the initial anger subsides, it can occasionally be replaced by regret and guilt which sow their seeds and slowly take over the life of the murderer.