Electra as a Sophoclean Hero

Based on Knox, Bernard M. W.  "The Sophoclean Hero 1."  The Heroic Temper: Studies in Sophoclean Tragedy.  Berkeley: University of California, 1964.  1-27.

1. Language of Eternity (always and never)

Electra refuses to end her mourning for her father.

Heroic Resolve

Lack of compromise.


See ll. 103-4; 163; 333-335


2. Requests for the hero to Yield

a.) by the chorus (121 ff)

b.) by Chrysothemis (330 ff.)


3. Anger of the hero

ll. 329, 368 (towards Chrysothemis)

ll. 610 (towards Clytemnestra)


4. Heroic Isolation

a.) from Orestes

b.) from her sister                     See especially ll. 813ff and 1017 ff.

c.) from everyone


This isolation is emphasized by

  1. apostrophe to the elements, e.g., l. 88 ff.
  2. imprisonment, i.e. physical isolation (lines 3880-1)


5. Emphasis on Nobility

ll. 257ff; 989 ff.


6. Ridicule of Enemies

270ff; 292 ff; 790ff; 808ff


7. Death Wish

387ff; 678; 821-2; 1168-9


Compare these characteristics of Electra to other Sophoclean characters like Philoctetes, Ajax, Oedipus, and, especially, Antigone.