The Symbolism Of Fire In Agamemnon

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The use of fire as a symbol in the story of Agamemnon in the book Oresteia provides an important perspective of how the story is structured as a whole. The image of fire contributes to the story of Agamemnon because the symbol of fire has different meanings and helps tie the story together. Early in the story fire is used as a symbol of the joy and happiness it can bring to people’s lives. Later in the story, fire is used to symbolize the spreading of news or gossip across the city, and shortly after that, the symbol of fire represents and foreshadows death. The darkness and absence of fire in the beginning of the Oresteia causes the watchman to become anxious and worried. Then when the light of the fire is seen, the watchman instantly becomes…show more content…
While the light of the fire brought happiness to the watchman, the signal of the beacon brought questions and gossip throughout the rest of the townspeople. As we know, the news of the war of Troy is passed to Agamemnon's kingdom by the lighting and beacons all across the way , “A god of fire sprang from the peak of Ida/And swift as a glance with news of the fall of Troy”(19). This part is explaining how Clytemnestra and the people of Agamemnon's kingdom are happy to have learned of the end of the fight for Troy. But the one problem with the signal of the beacon is that it only tells Clytemnestra and the citizens that the war has ended, not the outcome. This uncertainty causes people to begin to make speculations and guesses on what the beacon means for the outcome of the war, “Those fires have set the whole city ablaze with rumor... Never believe news. Those flames are liars”(27). Although most people cannot see the outcome in the fire, Agamemnon's wife Clytemnestra can sense sense the outcome in the war from the beacon signal. She says, “Alit here, on the roof of this palace./ This was the relay race of my torchbearers./ And this is my proof-this flame. Sent to me/Straight from burning Troy by Agamemnon”(20). In this quote, Clytemnestra is telling the chorus that all though there has been no direct signal contact or message from Agamemnon and…show more content…
When the symbol fire is describing death, it refers to the death of thousands of people, and foreshadows the death of Agamemnon. As a symbol of death, fire is used to describe the desolate remains of Troy by the end of the war. “The sufferings of Troy/Troy in flames”(38). This quote not only discusses the destruction of Troy, but it is also used to describe the death of the hundreds of thousands of people that were living in Troy. While reading this quote for the first time, it appears to just refer to the destruction of Troy, because up until this point in the story, there has been almost no discussion about the death of innocent people. But as we learn later in the play, Agamemnon is murdered by his wife Clytemnestra, which quickly turns the family into a downfall as Agamemnon's death leads to a chain of other people being murdered. Because of this, after reading of Agamemnon's death and the chain of events that occur after it, this quote about fire can be interpreted as not only a description of Troy, but also a foreshadowing of the suffering that will come of Agamemnon's family. This foreshadowing leads to the relationship of Agamemnon's entire family becoming engulfed in flames. Although the quote about the fire and destruction of Troy seems just factual at first, after analyzing the use of fire throughout the book, it is clear that this meaning of fire is not only used

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