The Libation Bearers

Electra Character Analysis

The daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, and sister to Orestes, Electra has spent the years of her brother’s exile alone and powerless. Like her sibling, she is incensed by Clytemnestra’s murder of Agamemnon and her affair with Aegisthus—yet because Electra is a woman, she has been able to take revenge until Orestes’ return. Similarly to Orestes, Electra is pious and loyal, visiting her father’s tomb and lamenting for her lost brother. When it comes to her mother, however, she is unforgiving and merciless.

Electra Quotes in The Libation Bearers

The The Libation Bearers quotes below are all either spoken by Electra or refer to Electra. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Revenge Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of The Libation Bearers published in 1966.
Lines 1-585 Quotes

The proud dead stir under the earth,

They rage against the ones who took their lives…

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Electra, Agamemnon
Related Symbols: Agamemnon’s Burial Mound and Shroud
Page Number: 44-45
Explanation and Analysis:

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What to say when I pour the cup of sorrow?
What kindness, what prayer can touch my father?
Shall I say I bring him love for love, a woman’s
love for her husband? My mother, love from her?
I’ve no taste for that, no words to say
as I run the honeyed oil on father’s tomb.

Related Characters: Electra (speaker), The Chorus, Clytemnestra, Agamemnon
Related Symbols: Agamemnon’s Burial Mound and Shroud
Page Number: 86-91
Explanation and Analysis:

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For our enemies I say,
raise up your avenger, into the light, my father—
kill the killers in return, with justice!
So in the midst of prayers for good I place
this curse for them.

Related Characters: Electra (speaker), Orestes, The Chorus, Clytemnestra, Aegisthus, Agamemnon
Related Symbols: Agamemnon’s Burial Mound and Shroud
Page Number: 147-151
Explanation and Analysis:

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Your pain is mine.
If I laugh at yours, I only laugh at mine.

Related Characters: Orestes (speaker), Electra
Related Symbols: The Hair and Footprints of Orestes and Electra
Page Number: 223-224
Explanation and Analysis:

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You light to my eyes, four loves in one!
I have to call you father, it is fate;
and I turn to you the love I gave my mother—
I despise her, she deserves it, yes,
and the love I gave my sister, sacrificed
on the cruel sword, I turn to you.

Related Characters: Electra (speaker), The Chorus (speaker), Orestes, Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, Iphigenia
Page Number: 240-245
Explanation and Analysis:

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Electra Character Timeline in The Libation Bearers

The timeline below shows where the character Electra appears in The Libation Bearers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1-585
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
As Orestes prays, Electra enters with the Chorus, a group of slave women who attend her. They are dressed... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...with blood, and curse their lives as slaves, connecting their own plight with that of Electra, who silently and secretly mourns for the betrayed Agamemnon. (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Electra praises the Chorus, thanking them for accompanying her to Agamemnon’s grave. She begins to lament... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
The leader of the Chorus tells Electra that she should say a prayer for “those who love you…[and] hate Aegisthus.” Electra laments... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Electra kneels at the grave and prays to Hermes, begging him to ask the dead and... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Electra then calls upon the Chorus to add their prayers to hers. The group of women... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Having finished her prayer, Electra spots Orestes’ locks of hair on the ground. She notes that the hair is identical... (full context)
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Within moments, Electra spots Orestes’ footprints in the dirt (as well as Pylades’). Comparing the tracks to her... (full context)
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...not to give herself to joy, since his arrival has put them in grave danger. Electra explains that Orestes is not only her brother, but now he must also replace her... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...killed by a treacherous snake. They once again compare their enslaved state to that of Electra, and praise Agamemnon for his generosity and protectiveness. They describe the house (family) as “ruined,”... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
The Chorus leader warns Orestes and Electra to be wary of Aegisthus’ and Clytemnestra’s spies. Orestes responds that he is under the... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Orestes, Electra, and the Chorus gather to pray at the grave. The Chorus invokes the Fates and... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
The Chorus leaves Electra and Orestes at the grave. Orestes prays for the power “to rule our house” while... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
...Chorus encourages him to share his plan with them. He replies that it is simple: Electra and the Chorus will return to the house, while he and Pylades will disguise themselves... (full context)
Lines 653-718
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate, the Gods, and Piety Theme Icon
Familial Bonds Theme Icon
Violence, Death, and the Dead Theme Icon
Clytemnestra enters, attended by Electra, and offers Pylades and Orestes a place to stay for the night, adding, “the eyes... (full context)