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Elektra
Strauss, R.

Tragedy in one Act

The scene of the drama is the inner court of the palace in Mycenae. Since Clytemnestra and her paramour, Aegisthus, have compassed the murder of her husband, Agamemnon, her daughter Elektra lives only with the thought of vengeance. She exists like a wild beast, banished from the society of human beings, a butt of ridicule to the servants, a horror to all, only desirous of the blood of her mother and Aegisthus in atonement for that of her father. The murderers have no rest, either. Fear haunts them. 

 

Elektra's sister, Chrysothemis, is entirely unlike her. She craves marriage and children, but this desire becomes an obsession. Clytemnestra has lost her peace of mind and has completely surrendered herself to her accomplice, the unworthy Aegisthus. Having been tormented by her frightful dreams she even comes to seek help from the hated Elektra in the inner court. It is the daughter's first triumph in all her years of suffering. But it is short-lived, for Clytemnestra mocks her with the news that Orestes has died in a distant land. It is a terrible blow for Elektra, who had hoped that Orestes would return and wreak revenge on the queen and Aegisthus. Now the daughters must be the instruments of vengeance. And as the shocked Chrysothemis recoils from the task, Elektra determines to complete it alone. In the courtyard she digs up the very axe with which her father was slain and which she had buried in order to give it to her brother on his return. 

 

But the message regarding the death of Orestes was false. It was disseminated by her brother in order to allay the fears of the murderers of his father and put them off their guard. The stranger, who now enters the court, and at first cannot believe that the half-demented woman is his sister, is finally recognized by her as Orestes. He enters the palace, first slays Clytemnestra then kills Aegisthus. Elektra, her thirst for vengeance satisfied, starts dancing with increasing frenzy until she drops down dead.