The importance of structure in “The Agamemnon” Essay
The importance of structure in “The Agamemnon”
The Agamemnon is a classic Greek tragedy written by Aeschylus in which he entails the continuation of the curse on the house of Atreus in the time period following the end of the Trojan War and the return of King Agamemnon. This play tells of the murders of Cassandra and Agamemnon-by-Agamemnon’s wife Clytemestra. Throughout the play many aspects have a profound effect on the structure. Things such as the chorus, audience, the use of common literary devices such as “buts” and ellipses” as well as foreshadowing and flashback had an immense effect on the overall structure of the play The Agamemnon. In The Agamemnon the structure had a huge effect on the overall outcome and appearance of the play.
To begin, the chorus had a very large effect on the structure of The Agamemnon. In a small way it lets the reader/audience know about things taking place outside the realm of the play’s setting. This was not as important at the time this play would have been performed, but in this modern era it is very important that the chorus inform the audience with past events like the outcome of the Trojan War and the death of Iphagania. Such as in this case ” Then the elder king found voice and said: “This fate is hard to disobey, and hard I obey. Sever my child-my palace pearl? Bloody my hands in that virgin flood? A fathers hands at the alter side? Oh which is worse? But how can I betray my fleet and fail my allies? They are right in their fury-bound frenzy to imprecate the winds to calm by the blood of a virgin sacrificed…I hope it my be well!” If not for excerpts such as that one modern readers as well as some audience members in the past would not know the story of Iphagania and how it made Agamemnon make a choice no one would want to face and one in which the decision led to his death.
The chorus informing the audience/reader things they might not know provides a colossal influence on the structure of the play, without them the reader might become confused or lost in some of the occurrences that take place throughout the story. Yet the chorus makes the structure flow better for the reader to become more involved in the situation of the play. That is not the only way, in which the chorus affects the structure of The Agamemnon, there is another vital way in which the chorus affects the structure. The other very important way is in which the chorus affects the structure is the way that the chorus represents the idea of the average people of the time period; the people the audience/reader can relate to the best and understand the situations that take place throughout this Greek classic.
This aspect of the play affects the structure in a very large way. It gives the reader/audience a viewpoint that is easily understandable, a message that is meant for them and not the upper class that would not be provided without Aeschylus use of the chorus. That use makes the structure more broad, showing different viewpoints, which is always important when writing. Also it builds up the drama of the climax by having the chorus use time and show their own ideas. The chorus makes structure of The Agamemnon flow much more fluidly, and provides a way for Aeschylus to draw out the play and make the reader wait and wonder what will happen, both of which affected the structure of The Agamemnon in a very immense way, which makes the play much better.
Secondly, the audience plays an important role in the overall structure of the play. Due to the particular audience that would have seen that play during its time of origin the structure is set up in a way that was contemporary in that time period. In other words, the expectations of the audience were in tune with the life style of that era and the author’s diction chose reflected those expectations. Therefore the audience during the time the play was written in has a great importance on the structure of common literary devices such as the use of “buts” and ellipses” as well as foreshadowing and flashback. For that reason the style Aeschylus wrote this play was one in which the audience would receive it. Yet although the audience was important to the structure then, it is inadvertently still very important now.
Aeschylus explains things happening around these people, whether for drama or some other reason to keep the anticipation of the audience at hand-it is still there and this structural point by Aeschylus tells people who would be the audience today of very important aspects of the Trojan War and other past events that they would not know of. Yet all of these structural things tie together and are intertwined to make their impact on the play and thus show why they all, including the audience, have a vast bearing on the structure of the play and therefore have an impact on the outcome and appearance of The Agamemnon for the better.
Thirdly, the use of “buts” and ellipses also play an important role on why the structure has an impact on the overall outcome of The Agamemnon. Buts mean that an argument has been provided, or there are two sides to the story. Showing both sides of something is extremely important both in life and literature and can be seen many times throughout The Agamemnon. Clytemnestra says “But even losing suits a mighty man.” this means that a mighty man wining would be the usual thing, but losing would still suit him and therefore two sides of something are presented which is huge in structure. Ellipses are also very important to the structure.
They cause a very necessary an important break which is common in Greek literature and therefore in The Agamemnon. ” How I hold him in my heart…Such shyness wears away in time.” The pause created by the ellipse exaggerates the point created that Clytemnestra missed Agamemnon in his long absence (which she didn’t). The “buts” and ellipses provide an enormous role in the structure of the play; Aeschylus used them impeccably to enhance the structure and therefore improve the total play due to the use of the structure.
Finally, the use of foreshadowing and flashbacks has an enormous effect on the structure in The Agamemnon. Aeschylus as well as many other ancient Greek writers used these literary tools to their perfection. Aeschylus uses flashbacks through many people throughout the play by describing past events, events that were flashbacked to give background information which is vital to a complete understanding of the play. The flashbacks are important to the structure of The Agamemnon because they relate to so many other aspects of why the structure is so important to the play. The chorus, which is very important to the play, uses flashbacks all the time and without them the structure of the play would seem very strange and extremely different from the way in which it reads now. Some of the ways in which Aeschylus incorporates flashbacks and foreshadowing into The Agamemnon is both interesting and important to the structure of the play.
One of the ways in which this is very clear is how both flashbacks and foreshadowing are used through the character Cassandra. Cassandra is Agamemnon’s spoil of war, he took her as a victory prize after the Trojan War and she is gift with the power of insight and she can therefore see into the future and she is also aware of the history of the house of Atreus. Therefore this gift of insight will clearly have an obvious affect on the foreshadowing in the play as it can be seen here, “So, then I go To sing the dirge of my own demise And Agamemnon too within the palace. Enough of life! O unknown men, good-bye! I am no little bird that quivers at a bush’s stir. But when I am dead and when you see A women for a women die, A man for a man ill-mated lie, Then remember what I said: My dying wish–remember it–my prophecy.” as said by Cassandra just prior to her death.
This is an amazing aspect to the structure of the play, it is a way to foreshadow and keep the reader/audience interested in the outcome and to keep reading to find out if what Cassandra says will come true. Cassandra is truly a dynamic character who is very important to the structure because within the play she also uses the literary tool of flashbacks, this character makes the structure of The Agamemnon much more vibrant than it would have been. Flashbacks and foreshadowing are important to the structure of any work, yet in Aeschylus they are used so perfectly and eloquently that they in-turn have a big impact on the structure, which consequently has a gigantic outcome on the play itself.
In conclusion, the structure of The Agamemnon had a huge effect on the overall outcome and appearance of the play. Aeschylus used many different things to enhance the structure of his play, all of these things intertwined into similar aspects of looking into the past or future, the chorus, audience, buts and ellipses, and flashbacks/foreshadowing all used some to improve the structure of the play in their own unique way. Many of Aeschylus’s ideas on the structure connect and have a huge effect’s on The Agamemnon.