Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Suksi, Aara L.


This thesis explores the ways in which the dynamics of marriage presented in Athenian tragedy of the fifth century BCE affect the portrayal of three tragic wives: Sophocles’ Deianeira, Euripides’ Hermione, and Euripides’ Electra. In modern scholarship, all three of these women have often been endowed with psychological portraits, which in turn have been used to explain their motivations and actions. Believing such an approach to be too subjective and anachronistic, I analyze instead the portrayal of tragic wives against the backdrop of contemporary Athenian institutions, in particular that of marriage. I argue that the problematic nature of their marriages is expressed through the representation of the tragic heroines’ relationship with time and space around them. In turn, it is the dynamics of this relationship that define the portrayal of the tragic wives’ characters and their actions and that also give us an insight into the larger culturally-relevant problems explored in the plays.

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