Electra

How does Hugo von Hofmannsthal use imagery in Electra?

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Animal imagery appears throughout the play. Before she even speaks, the stage direction states that Electra "bounds back like an animal into its hiding place." Other descriptions of Electra also suggest that of an animal, as a servant reports that she once broke into howls and threw herself into a corner. Later in the play, Electra digs into the ground "like an animal" to looking for the axe with which to kill Clytemnestra. The servants compare her to a wild cat; her fingers are likened to claws. Clytemnestra speaks of her, using the impersonal pronoun, in serpent imagery: "How it rears up with swelling neck / and darts its tongue at me!"

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Electra