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The Role Of Women In Oresteia

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In Aeschylus’s trilogy, Oresteia, the tragic manifesto paints a bloody chain of murder, adultery, betrayal, and kinslaying, in which DIKE (justice) and the relation of women to social and family structure serve as central themes. The Greeks were a misogynistic culture, in which women were relegated to an inferior status in society. Women were only given a limited voice because the family was the sovereign unit of society. The rule of justice stood for patriarchy. Cassandra’s importance is merely in the first play but her prophetic visions and declarations about the House of Atreus peal through the entire trilogy. She’s presented as a true inferior female to male superiority with little to no voice. Contrastingly, the female character,…show more content…
She possesses great vulnerability as victim to Apollo, who gave her powers, Agamemnon, her kidnapper, and Clytemnestra, her murderer. The first group of people she spoke to were the Chorus, who acted as the voice of the common man throughout the trilogy. She described her visions, in detail, of the future. Cassandra tells the chorus how she deceived Apollo by promising to marry him in exchange for prophetic powers but backed out. Upon realizing her deceit, Apollo cursed her so that no one would believe her prophecies. She wails that the House of Atreus is cursed because of the blood-soaked hands of the past fathers. She predicts that Clytemnestra will kill Agamemnon and describes the frantic splashing of Agamemnon in the bath tub while Clytemnestra stabs him. She also predicts her own murder at the hands of two butchers, Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. Cassandra, uninvolved in the family’s ordeals, fears for her own life but then soon realizes that fate is inexorable and accepts her death with courage. The Chorus doesn’t understand her utterances, but know that they are full of sorrow. She also foretells Orestes, the son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, will avenge his father’s death by murdering his mother. Cassandra isn’t presented as a citizen but rather as an unstable, dirty (matter out of place) slave. Carson situates women as “pollutable, polluted, and polluting in several ways at once” resulting in the male fearing the woman for lack of personal boundary
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