UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Conflict and character in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon Gainsford, Peter Joel.


Beginning with the position that Aeschylus expresses in Agamemnon a conflict between the character of Agamemnon and his wife Clytaemestra, it is discussed what form that conflict takes, how it is depicted, and how it is understood by its intended audience. Next the function of the idea of character, and of individual characters, in that conflict and in the presentation of that conflict is examined. Finally the definitions formulated in these sections are used to examine the interdependence of the two ideas of conflict and character in the cases of the two main characters in that conflict, Agamemnon and Clytaemestra. It is found that the conflict is schematised as a cyclical sequence of acts of vengeance, rather than an intellectually articulated opposition of viewpoints as might be expected. It is, however, treated as such an opposition for dramatic convenience, and this is achieved by a two-party system of allegiances in which Agamemnon and Clytaemestra are involved. It is then found that characters maintain individualised identities as flesh-and-blood personae while participating in this conflict, by the coincidence ('overdetermination') of the two sets of motivations implied by this dichotomy. It is then found that the intellectual functions and emotive realism of Clytaemestra and Agamemnon respectively justify and condemn the character Clytaemestra within the context of the conflict, and respectively condemn and justify Agamemnon. It is concluded that the style of the play is intentionally ambiguous and that events in the play serve multiple functions so as to create an impressionistic structure through which the audience perceives the above aspects of the play.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.