The Bacchae Play Analysis

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After reading Ian Johnston’s interpretations and notes on The Bacchae, I find myself to be more in agreeance with his first interpretation and approach to the play. However, I also believe that his second approach cannot be ignored and making a choice between the two is not necessarily of most importance. Ultimately, I think the first approach to the play aligns more with our traditional belief of what the sacred is and the views of religion/religious texts, as discussed in this lesson and previous ones, and is probably a reason I am more inclined to agree with Johnston’s first interpretation. I think that through this approach, the play essentially proscribes a balance in everyday life: one must balance the lawfulness of a careful life in the city, but also the “unconscious energizing powers”. Without a balance, especially without recognition of these “powers”, one may end up the way that either Agave or Pentheus did. This approach certainly rationalizes the way both of these characters act in…show more content…
Once again, it proscribes belief and without this belief, disastrous things will occur. This explains the fates of Pentheus and his family, that these are merely consequences for refusal of belief in Dionysus, and rationalizes the violence that Dionysus uses against the family. This also makes sense when the historical context of the tragedy is involved: these plays carried “religious dimensions”, as discussed in this week’s lesson, and were originally played in festivals for Dionysus. Whilst Johnston argues near the end of his summary that historical contexts should not be involved when it comes to interpretations, I believe they cannot be completely ignored, as it truly does help rationalize his first
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