Gender in The Furies

The role of gender varies in The Furies Works of literature written during this time period typically are reflective of the way women were viewed and seen as during the time and this is not any different. A lot of gender stereotypes are upheld in this play. On the other hand, a woman does have the most power in the courtroom and was able to speak up. 

Clytemnestra is portrayed as a crazy woman set on revenge. She is frantic and determined to get the Furies help in making sure that Orestes pays for what he did. Agamemnon is painted as a saint and that him being murdered is the worst thing that could happen. No one seems to side or even try to understand Clytemnestra and where she is coming from. Her husband sacrificed their daughter and the only one people are blaming is Clytemnestra because she retaliated. Agamemnon did not die in battle but died at the hands of the woman and that is a sin. Apollo nor Orestes have any respect for the Furies, who are older women goddesses. Apollo describes them in harsh words and even takes a stab at their virginity, which is not relevant in any sense. He questions their authority, though they are older and just as powerful. When the Furies were questioning Orestes in court, Orestes seemed to respond with surprise that he shared blood with his mother. It is apparent to Orestes, Apollo, and even Athena that being a mother does not even begin to compare to being a father. Apollo claims that there is only one parent and it is the father,  “the one named mother is not the child’s true parent but the nurturer of the newly sown seed” (Aeschylus 145). Motherhood is downgraded time and time again. Even Athena says she is a child of her father and not her mother. 

Orestes turned to Apollo for help and he sent him Athena’s way. Athena has the ultimate power when it comes to Orestes case. She is essentially the judge. Her vote is the one that broke the tie after the jurors voted so in the end, Orestes’ fate rested in her hands and she sided with him, “I cannot give precedence to the woman’s death” she murdered her husband, the guardian of the House’ if the vote is split Orestes will be the winner” (Aeschylus 148). Athena also offered the Furies a position of power, in which they would be worshipped and in return, be expected to do good things. Though Athena was the woman of power in the courtroom, she did say that this case was too much for her to decide so she chose her finest men to be the jurors and preside in the case. 

Ultimately gender norms are more or less prevalent in this play. Athena may be a woman of power, but that is the only case in which there is any respect for women by men in the play. Even Athena has misogynist ways and in the end, men are seen as the superior gender.

One thought on “Gender in The Furies”

  1. Cool discussion of Athena’s tilting of the scales (just about literally) in favor of a verdict that vindicates Orestes at the expense of not only the Furies but the feminized version of justice they stand for. We need to talk about that verdict, and what it means that Athena casts the deciding vote, in class for sure. Also, kudos for being the first blogger to quote the text directly!

    Like

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