In the play Orestia by Ted Hughes, animals are used to represent the evils in all the characters. Hughes uses snakes and birds as a metaphor to describe how deceiving and violent characters are to each other throughout all three of the plays.
In the second play, Choephori, snakes are used to symbolize how deceiving people are. Today, people pretend to like something they don’t just to fit in. In Choephori, this same deceiving happens on a more extreme scale. One night, Clytemnestra “Dreamed she was having a child. But what came out was a snake” (118). Clytemnestra was supposed to give birth to a beautiful baby, but what came out was a horrifying snake. However, Clytemnestra cared for the snake and “In her dream, she swaddled the snake” (118). Although we could all see that the baby was a snake, Clytemnestra could not tell. Clytemnestra cared for the snake and held it close to her until, “the fangs sank into her breast” (119). Clytemnestra was trying to care for the snake by breast-feeding it, a motherly act. However, the snake abused this act and bit her. This parallels the relationship between Clytemnestra and Orestes; Orestes is the snake in this scenario. Even though Clytemnestra thought that she was protecting Orestes by avenging his sister’s death, Orestes deceived her and killed her.
In the first play, Agememnon, birds are used to deceive the victory of the Trojan War. At first, the birds are a signal victory for Greece; however, the two birds then deceive the whole town and end up killing two innocent babies.
Then those two birds,
The black bird and the white bird,
Flushed and drove and killed
A hare heavy with her twins. (10)
The birds were supposed to bring promise of victory, a hint that the killing was over. However, the birds then kill two innocent babies, a signal that more killing would pursue. These birds represent Clytemnestra and Orestes. At first, these two are celebrating the victory of the war and the return of Agamemnon. However, they then surprise everyone and, like the birds, kill other people. During the war, Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia. When Agamemnon came home, a signal that the war was over, his wife Clytemnestra murders him. Orestes then avenges his father’s death and kills Clytemnestra. The two birds, Orestes and Clytemnestra, deceive everyone and kill people even after the war is over.
Throughout the third play, The Eumenides, many parts of humans are interchanged with those of animals. After the furies try to get Orestes killed, Apollo explains how vicious they are. Apollo states that the furies are vicious “From the talons of your feet
To the deadly snakes that crown you” (159).