"The Bacchae"

Essay by SusanRUniversity, Bachelor's May 2006

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Through out my life, I've heard the phrases, "Women shouldn't serve in the Armed Forces; no, I wouldn't want a female president; a woman's place is in the home." Even though our society is drifting from these extremely sexist views, opinions like these are still widely held. Women were mistreated much the same in the ancient Greek civilizations. The views of our society, regarding the social and sexual roles of women, are mirrored in the ancient Greek tragedy, "The Bacchae".

The idea that a woman's place is in the home is all too common in our culture, just take into consideration the Southern Baptist Convention's declaration stating wives must be submissive to their husbands. This belief was held strongly in the Greek civilization as well. A woman's function was to bear and raise children, cook, clean and care for any other needs the family may have. They weren't entitled to the basic freedoms they deserved.

This intolerant view was illustrated in "The Bacchae" when Pentheus, in a rage, was ranting on about how all the women have deserted their homes to run wild through the dark woods on the mountain (pg 19, ln 17). The imagery associated with the woods is black and evil, yet when Pentheus speaks of the home, he claims the women have "deserted," as if they were wrongfully leaving their duty. Obviously, he believes the home is the proper place for a woman.

Another very common misconception about women is that they were created for the pleasure of man. The idea that a woman's body was not her own, merely a possession to be dominated by her master as he wished, is also present in The Bacchae. The instances where the Maenads drank themselves into insensibility then crawled into the...