‘Clytaemnestra behaves more like a man than women throughout the play’ Using this passage as a starting point, explain how far you agree with this statement
Clytaemnestra displays a strong degree of masculine qualities throughout this passage, and furthermore the play. Her pride of triumph when standing over Agamemnon’s ‘corpse’, rejoicing that her act was a ‘masterpiece of justice’ is one contributing factor towards this. The image created of a queen who is feared by her people, over standing the King of Argos, ‘shrouded in bloody robes’ triumphantly insinuates a transgressive, powerful individual. The fear that is created through this scene again adds to her male qualities through her actions unexpected of a female and the resulting threat and danger of this.
Again, the language in this passage that Aeschylus uses demonstrates macho qualities, embroidering Clytemnestra’s masculine features and attributes. Her descriptions of one self-explore the factors that she herself sees power and might, rather than a noble submissive queen. The description of ‘my heart is steel’ elucidates this by demonstrating the strong authority that she now holds. The audience again would see this through the fact of her speaking in public, glorifying in her husband’s death and her self-image containing hearts of metal, implying being stone cold and terrifying. This use of imagery would be seen as something a fighter, hero, ruler, king or killer may hold, and within this time, all these occupants belonged to men, therefore, suggesting her masculine qualities through this, to conclude that Clytemnestra does behave more like a man than a women.
Clytaemnestra’s rebuking and threatening comments towards the chorus in this passage would again be another contributing factor to the masculinity she portrays. Through rebuffing the chorus by pointing out their hypocrisy, she is taking on a role of a man and speaking out. As she states ‘but he sacrificed his own child’ Clytaemnestra is acknowledging their faults and protesting against this. Again when she threatens the chorus by stating ‘I’ll meet you blow for blow’ she is asserting her power and authority on them, creating a tense and frightening scene in which she is demonstrating her male qualities, in which females weren’t expected to have. The idea of telling others they are wrong and intimidating them with threats and fear, her position as a submissive female is lost as she portrays the attributes of a strong male in this time, through mimicking their actions and words.
Clytaemnestra portrays many masculine qualities throughout the rest of the play as well, such as her initial ruling of Argos. The idea of a women having control over an entire city would immediately suggest to an audience of this time that her connoting female attributes are more hidden to the brash and powerful…