A with conventional gender roles and justice. Very

A central theme in Aeschylus’ play, Agamemnon deals with conventional gender roles and justice. Very few significant literary texts include women written with multiple dimensions and complexity to their character however certain texts such as the fifth century play, Agamemnon offer incite regarding female characters. Although Greek playwrights were men, fictional female characters revealed how real-life women lived in a patriarchal society. The legal position of women in Classical Athens included: a woman would be in legal control by a man, they were denied many rights such as free speech, no voting and women could not own property . Interestingly, Greek Mythology often depicts women as evil creatures such as the furies, thus Aeschylus may have chosen a woman to be the antagonist, or oppositional figure, towards society in the play. Aeschylus explores Clytemnestra’s ‘monstrous’ character by adding in non-conforming traits that threatened male-dominance. Through her rising power, his play displays male concern that women may be a threat to male-dominated society and have the potential to disrupt male-ruled order. Aeschylus’ character, Clytemnestra rebels against Classical Athens gender roles through her embodiment of masculine traits displayed by her use of actions, language and animal imagery.In Agamemnon, Clytemnestra plays a double role to seek justice for her daughter, Iphigenia who was sacrificed by Agamemnon for favourable weather conditions.  She plays the dual role; a feminine role of a loving wife and a masculine role of a militant planning out his next move. In the opening scenes, the watchman notices her lack of femininity by stating that “she has a fiery heart, / the determined resolution of a man” (Aeschylus 10-11) when she orders men to watch the signal fires to see if they had won the war. This is merely the first instance of her engaging in free speech; only men were allowed that freedom, however she continues to exercise her power throughout the play. Without the presence of her husband, Clytemnestra stepped into a position of power and displays intelligence and militant strategy when her plan works; she gains access to more freedom usually associated with men. However, the chorus questions her due to her being a woman who were believed to be gullible and they state, “that’s just the nature of a woman- / to give thanks before the truth appears.” (Aeschylus 482-483). In the fifth century, ‘womanly behaviour’ was characterized as being modest and submissive however Clytemnestra defies every fifth century convention of the ideal woman by embracing her political power and ignoring all traditional expectations of a quiet and submissive woman. She rejects the role of motherhood by sending her son away and rejects gender roles to emasculate men in the society.  Furthermore, she is described as a woman who “speaks wisely, like a prudent man” (Aeschylus 351) due to the speeches she gives once Agamemnon returns home. Her duplicitous nature can be seen when she reminds the chorus that her plan had worked although “I’ve let you hear my woman’s words.” (Aeschylus 348). Clytemnestra intentionally reminds the chorus to recognize that she is a woman who is fully capable of being rational. Traditionally, women did not engage in many public events and were not involved with politics. In Classical Athenian government, only men were given both political power and freedom of speech thus the chorus is unable to reason with Clytemnestra and they judge the legitimacy of her claims because of her gender and since she possesses power, she is a threat and disrupts the patriarchal society. The chorus repeatedly judges her role and states that “we’ve come here / in deference to your royal authority. / with out king far away, the man’s throne / is empty” (Aeschylus 258-260). Clytemnestra ignores the chorus’ rejection of her authority and continues to contest gender norms.Once Agamemnon had arrived home, Clytemnestra continues the dual-role by playing the pretending to be a faithful wife while skillfully manipulating language to convince him that “he’ll find his wife as faithful / as when he left, a watch dog of the home, / loyal to him” (Aeschylus 606-609).Gradually, she becomes more comfortable with her masculine qualities when she embraces her freedom of speech because in that period, women would not speak of bold topics such as adultery; she proudly challenges society by freely talking to men, counseling men, and speaking about anything she wants to address. She ignores women’s behavioral expectations by using her intelligence to persuade Agamemnon to commit a sacrilegious act of stepping on the purple tapestry by demanding he “be strong and yield” (Aeschylus 943). She skillfully emasculates him using his own weakness, his pride. After committing the murder of her husband, Clytemnestra’s tone encompasses masculinity, like a victorious hero gloating over his fallen enemy. She ignores the traditional convention of a quiet woman, instead she boasts over her accomplishment of seeking justice over the death of her daughter.  However, this appalls the chorus because they believe that their king had been overthrown by a woman, and a woman should not have power. Clytemnestra further emphasizes her masculinity once Aegisthus appears; although he tries to take credit for the murder of Agamemnon by stating, “this murder was my plan for justice, / but I grew up, and justice brought / me back.” (Aeschylus 1603-1610) however his lack of masculinity and foolish self-importance make it obvious that he had not committed the crime. The chorus uses the term ‘womanly’ against him because the chorus finally acknowledges Clytemnestra’s capabilities and the realize that a woman committed the murder. The chorus continues to juxtapose Clytemnestra and Aegisthus and she is eventually seen to be the ‘stronger man’ in the relationship. For men it was acceptable to come home with a courtesan however Clytemnestra would have been brutally punished for her infidelity. By playing the double role of a rebellious woman with masculine qualities, Clytemnestra can contest traditional gender roles, seize political power and status in a patriarchal society in Argos.