Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
World Languages and Literatures
Camus, Electra's Myth, Giraudoux, Mythe d'Electre, Sartre, Yourcenar
Literature; Comparative literature; Theater history
MÉTAMORPHOSES D'ÉLECTRE D'EUGENE O'NEILL À MARGUERITE YOURCENAR
by Céline Richard
Since Greek Antiquity, the Electra myth remains a constant source of inspiration. Electra, in looking to avenge the unpunished murder of her father, becomes the symbol of absent justice. During the first half of the twentieth century, five playwrights reinterpreted the infamous crime in order to modernize and update this legendary myth. Even though Marguerite Yourcenar's apolitical play Électre ou la Chute des Masques makes little reference to the events of her time, the playwright tears down one by one the veil of appearances exposing the fears, malaise, and revolt of a younger generation intent on holding their parents or elders accountable. Matricide along with the symbolic death of the traditional maternal role becomes an urgent necessity which is reflected in the generational conflict that characterizes France and Europe in the 1970s. Although Yourcenar does not stress the play's feminist dimensions, she nonetheless depicts Electra as a corrosive character who is determined to exact revenge by all means necessary, epitomized by her fake pregnancy as a means of exposing the truth. Yourcenar creates a new, metamorphosed Electra freed from the bonds of marriage and submission and, above all, as free as Sartre's Oreste, fully in charge of her own destiny even if she risks turning her Electra into a tyrant herself.
Richard, Celine, "Métamorphoses D'électre D'eugene O'Neill à Marguerite Yourcenar" (2012). Master's Theses. Paper 4166.