There is a mainstream consensus about Sophocles' Electra. Most interpreters believe that Sophocles expected his audience to approve of the "heroic constancy" of Electra, and to be gratified by the triumph of Orestes and Electra. Jebb wrote of "a deed of unalloyed merit, which brings the troubles of the house to an end," while more recent commentators have elaborated on this reading. Bowra wrote that " ... a new light shines for men. Justice and order are restored, and even in the welter of vengeance and hatred rises a new force of love." This reading is not simply a product of the pro-liberationist stance that was often adopted in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; Gardiner and March have aggressively revived it in recent years. The reading seems to me to be quite impossible, however, in the light of what actually happens in the tragedy, especially in the finale; it also interprets Electra without any reference to its cultural context. Sheppard (1918, 1927) and Kells pioneered an a lternative interpretation, which I outline in what follows.
Helios: a Journal Devoted to Critical and Methodological Studies of Classical Culture, Literature, and Society Vol. 27, Issue 2, p. 123-136