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The Bacchae of Euripides - Essay Example

Dionysius was the son of the supreme deity, Zeus, and a Theban princess, Semele. His delivery was extraordinary and Semele’s sisters had propagated the lie that Zeus was not the father of Dionysius. Pentheus, being the king of Thebes, had barred god Dionysius from all traditional public rites. Dionysius plans to proclaim his lineage and reclaim his reverence as a god among the Greeks. The god assumes the form of a human being and travels to Thebes, where he practices his rites with his followers, the Bacchae. Pentheus directs the arrest of Dionysius, yet in lengthy dialogues, the god, while disguised as a human persuades Pentheus to mask himself as a woman and go witness the rites of Bacchae, the followers of Dionysius in the mountains (Bloom 39). The naive Pentheus climbs a pine tree better scrutinize the rites. Once in the tree, Dionysius’ resounding voice directs the maenads to behold the man who repudiated their god and derided their rites, and orders them to punish the intruder. The god’s voice sends the maenads into frenzy. Seeing Pentheus in the tree, they become possessed, thinking he is a mountain lion. With Agave, the mother of Pentheus, leading them, the maenads encircle the tree, bring it down with their hands and descend upon Pentheus with ferocity (Bloom 40). Pentheus takes out his headdress in the hope that his mother could recognize him, but to no avail. He is dismembered limb by limb, first by his mother, then by all the maniacal maenads. Out of her senses, his mother tears Pentheus head off, believing it is the cranium of a lion, and jazzes exultantly around the countryside. After a distressing realization scene where she recognizes she has slain her own son, Agave and the other are banished (Bloom 41). The students’ performance gives the audience the opportunity to experience the power of the Dionysian experience without having to suffer what Pentheus, Agave and others suffer. They succeed in transforming the meta-tragedy of the story into the sacrificial ritual drama. They successfully take the audience into the world of metaphysical depicted by the freeing of the nation by the death of Pentheus. The students create an excellent illusion tragedy as they seek to convey the message of the play, which causes the audience to lose themselves as they give in to the deeper sense of their selves. The actors also bring out the author’s intention very well; their performance does not obliterate the textuality of the drama. The actors particularly excel in demonstrating the Dionysus’ interjection through use of the force and value of ambivalent monosyllable. The students also portray the alienation effect well. The appearance of the gods on the stage helps to create perfect stage epiphany. From the audience’s perspective, these appearances have no referential aspects of meaning, because the way in which god speaks his opening remarks or seems as deus ex machina on the tragic stage, does not infer in any way the manner in which divinities could be perceived in the reality outside the theatre. The audience does not see the theatrical representation of a religious experience, an epiphany, but decodes the code in strict narrative terms. The acting tries to retell the story but as an audience one can feel that there is something more than a story. There is a meaning, or a riddle, which one must try, to some extent, to understand. Nevertheless, the actors should improve on ...Show more
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Summary

Name Professor Course Date The Bacchae of Euripides The Bacchae is a play authored by Euripides, and premiered after his death in the ancient Athens at the Great Dionysia in 405 B.C. It is a tragedy play, but it is more than a narration of irreverence, hubris and disrespect punished; it is also a reflective analysis of psychological repression and its effects…
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