Like many of the works written in the past, the role of genders matched the real-life roles. However, in The Furies, the characters did not keep their stereotypical roles of this time period in the play at all. In this play, the women had all the power, and the men were there to try and support each other.
The first example of female power is Clytemnestra talking to the Furies about getting revenge. Through my first time reading through this, I missed the fact that the Furies were female. So, my first impression of this scene was that even as a ghost, a female still had more power than a male because she was able to give the Furies commands in their sleep. But this changed after I realized they were female.
In the end of the play, Athena is given the power to decide the outcome of what will happen to Orestes, is interesting in two ways. The first is the fact that she was going to have the final say if the votes come back a tie. If she has the power to do that, why didn’t she just do that in the beginning? I understand that she wants to give Orestes a fair trial, so the Furies don’t think she doesn’t want to hear what their side of the story, but the outcome was still the same Orestes was spared. The other way I thought this scene was interesting was because of how the play ended. After the trial, Athena and was trying to appease the Furies so they wouldn’t bring havoc to the world. This only happened because the Furies were not able to deal with Orestes the way they wanted to. But this was going to happen with or without a trial because it was Athena’s decision, so the trial wasn’t necessary.
The Furies also had a significant amount of power. They were able to challenge the ideas of both Athena and Apollo and not suffer any major consequences. The most important of the two would be Apollo since he was a male, and it is typically the male who has the power to do this.
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.