In this book, I studied the deep structure of the Electra myth and applied it to plays as early as those of Aeschylus,Sophocles and Euripides, through Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet,to as late as Sam Shepard's Curse of the Starving Class.Along the way, I took note of the historical/political climates which provoked the writing and rewriting of the Electra theme, the same play appearing over and over, each time in a different guise.
The ritual of theater constitutes a raising of issues, a giving of physical form to he intangible realities of our lives which we would otherwise ignore. Theater thus "makes the invisible visible" in such a way as to force us to examine our values, our nature and our judgment. it is the constant return of the spectators to the sacred center of performance that necessitates the confrontation of ourselves with our Eumenides, our conscience or our "Shadow."
What about the voiceless nature of women throughout our western history? If our culture would have recorded equally the emotional needs, the social development, the struggle and the dreams of women and of men, and not regarded men as the personification of all peoplekind, if the male had allowed the feminine a place both within his personal, psychological structure - and within his political outlook, or, to press the point, if men had not wrenched themselves so ruthlessly from the female, would Western history not have been a totally different Story?
Euripides: Electra (ca. 400B.C.)
Although Euripides was a somewhat younger contemporary of Sophocles, there is a radical difference between the elder poet's treatment of the Electra myth and that of Euripides. The sense of royalty, of ritual and of the avenging dead are removed from the latter. Here we have neither palace, altar, nor tomb anywhere on stage, only the humble shack of a peasant, for the subject of this play is not the aristocracy but the poverty of society and of the spirit.