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A failure to atone : object relations theory in Orestes’ sacrifice of sanity

by Mitsunaga-Whitten, Michiko Audrey

Abstract

As he feels the inescapable brunt of duty bound with crime, Orestes, son 0f Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, declares: If the serpent came from the same place as I, and slept in the bands that swaddled, me, and its jaws spread wide for the breast that nursed me into life and clots stained the milk, mother’s milk, and she cried in fear and agony- so be it. Aesch. Ag. 1 Spurred by Apollo, Electra, responsibility, and omens, Orestes is coerced to commit revengeful matricide. What seems an ancient family feud in The Oresteia is a timeless and modern issue, that yields itself to fruitful analysis when seen through the lens of infantile developmental stages in Melanie Klein’s object relations theory. Klein herself reflected upon The Oresteia and its correspondence to object relations in her book, Envy and Gratitude (1984). As if Aeschylus held a modern understanding of the depth and development of the unconscious, his characters are paradigmatic of the object relationships Klein describes. The cardinal conclusion Klein arrives at in her psychoanalytic criticism of Aeschylus’ trilogy is that Orestes’ acquittal in the third book, The Eumenides, heals and restores his mental state after intense familial trauma. I, on the other hand, propose that there is an essential feature of Orestes’ trial that forbids a healthy psychic recovery to occur for the unfortunate prince.

Note

This capstone fulfills the requirements of the Colorado College Psychoanalysis Minor.

Includes bibliographical references.

Colorado College Honor Code upheld.

Administrative Notes

This capstone fulfills the requirements of the Colorado College Psychoanalysis Minor.

Colorado College Honor Code upheld.

Copyright
Copyright restrictions apply.
Publisher
Colorado College
PID
coccc:7984
Digital Origin
born digital
Extent
22 pages
Thesis
Senior Thesis -- Colorado College
Thesis Advisor
Dobson, Marcia
Department/Program
Classics - Psychoanalysis Minor
Degree Name
bachelor
Degree Type
Bachelor of Arts
Degree Grantor
Colorado College
Date Issued
2013