The Flies | Study Guide

Jean-Paul Sartre

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The Flies | Characters

Character Description
Orestes Orestes is the son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. He avenges his father's death by murdering his mother and her lover Aegistheus and afterward takes full ownership of his action and is free of any remorse. Read More
Zeus Zeus is the king of the Greek gods, described in the play as the "god of flies and death." He delights in the terror, repentance, fear, and obedience of mortals but has no power over those who know they are free. Read More
Electra Electra is the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra and has been kept in the palace as a scullery maid. She rebels against her mother and Aegistheus and wishes for their deaths but loses her nerve when facing actual murder. Read More
Clytemnestra Once a great beauty, Clytemnestra orchestrated the murder of her husband, Agamemnon, 15 years ago. The weight of her guilt has ruined her life even though she does not regret the loss of her husband. Read More
Aegistheus Aegistheus has ruled as king in Argos since he and Clytemnestra murdered Agamemnon 15 years ago. He uses terror and superstition to keep the populace controlled, but he no longer takes joy from his position. Read More
Agamemnon Agamemnon was the father of Orestes and Electra. He was king of Argos until his murder by Aegistheus and Clytemnestra 15 years ago.
First Fury The Furies are Greek mythological figures who punish the guilty, described by Electra as "the goddesses of remorse." The first Fury seems to be their leader and often speaks for the group.
First soldier The first soldier fears the stuffy ghost of Agamemnon and wishes he were around the ghosts of common people instead.
High priest The high priest leads the Dead Men's Day ceremony. He is shocked and horrified at Electra's impertinent blasphemy.
Man A member of the crowd at the Dead Men's Day ceremony, the man falls to his knees in an ecstasy of guilt and self-loathing. He implores the flies to devour him.
Old woman Zeus questions an old woman in mourning clothes about why she did nothing to stop the murder of Agamemnon. While she pleads to be allowed to go, he accuses her of enjoying—even of having been sexually aroused by—the carnage.
Second Fury The Furies are Greek mythological figures who punish the guilty. The second fury dreams of biting Electra and Orestes.
Second soldier The second soldier does not believe the noises in the throne room are ghosts and nearly discovers Orestes and Electra.
Third Fury The Furies are Greek mythological figures who punish the guilty. The third fury ecstatically describes how she will "mother" Orestes with her hate before gouging out his eyes.
Tutor The tutor is Orestes's elderly slave who has exposed him to all the great thinkers of their time and taken him on voyages throughout the world. He disdains superstition and argues that Orestes's freedom comes from being uncommitted to the world.
Voices in the crowd When Electra is not struck down for dancing merrily, members of the crowd begin to doubt the dead are real. Several voices in the crowd are heard, first challenging Electra and then challenging Aegistheus.
Woman A woman with her child tells the youngster they must cry when it is time. She explains terror is how people grow into god-fearing people.
Young woman The young woman in the crowd fears the return of her dead husband. Although he loved her in life, in death he must know she was unfaithful and will punish her.
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