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Happiness in Iphigenia in Tauris

Act I
Scene I
Play opens with an unhappy Iphigenia as she is separated from her home and place of belonging – it
leaves her feeling isolated. This is exacerbated by her lack of familial contact – ‘Weh dem, der fern
von Eltern und Geschwistern/Ein einsam Leben führt’ (15/16). Her happiness is also limited by her
womanhood – ‘Wie eng-gebunden ist des Weibes Glück!’ (29) She sees her happiness as dependent
upon others and not on herself at this point. Refers to live in Tauris as ‘dem zweiten Tode’ (53) – she
is incredibly unhappy there, because she feels powerless – she cannot take control of her own destiny.
Scene II
Iphigenia is connected again to Greece as the source of her happiness – Lines 74-78, especially ‘Das
ist’s, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.’ ‘Selbst gerettet, war ich nur ein Schatten mir, und frische
Lust des Lebens blueht in mur nicht wieder auf.’ (88-90) Once again, she needs her family for
happiness. Iphigenia and Arkas debate the nature of happiness – Arkas says she should be happy with
her lot as she is alive, and cared-for, and is having a positive influence on Thoas. Iphigenia, however,
sees her life in Tauris as almost imprisonment – ‘Welch Leben ist’s, das an der heil’gen Staette Gleich
einem Schatten um sein eigen Grab, ich nur vertrauen muss? Und nenn ich das sein frohlich
selbstbewusstes Leben, wen nuns jeder Tag, vergebens hingetraeumt, zu jenen grauen Tagen
vorbereitet, die an dem Ufer Lethes, selbstvergessend, die Trauerschar der Abgeschiednen feiert?’
Arkas responds to this be effectively shaming her for not being happy – ‘den edeln Stolz, dass du dir
selbst nicht gnuegest, verzeih ich dir, so sehr ich dich bedaure: Er raubet den Genuss des Lebens dir’
(117-119). The fundamental difference comes in perception here – Iphigenia sees herself as useless,
and Arkas sees herself as useful. Usefulness is required for happiness. Arkas sees her also as a source
of happiness for the Taurians through the civilizing influence she brings – ‘Des neuen Glueckes ew’ge
Quelle wirst’ (141) but for Iphigenia this merely reminds her how much there is still to do to
Hellenize the Taurians (144/145).
Scene III
Iphigenia greets Thoas by imploring him ‘vor vielen seltnes Glueck geniessest.’ Thoas sees Iphigenia
as a source of happiness, again, and a route to further happiness – ‘Der ist am gluecklichsten, er sei
ein Koenig ode rein Geringer, dem in seinem Hause Wohl bereitet ist’ (228/230), and also ‘du nahmest
Teil an meinen tiefen Schmerzen, al smir das Schwert der Feinde meinen Sohn, den letzten, besten,
von der Seite riss.’ (231-233) He is sorrowful because of the death of his son, of course, and hopes to
fill the hole in his heart with Iphigenia and a new family. Iphigenia refuses, for fear that she is cursed
as a Tantalid – ‘Ach und sein ganz Geschlecht trug ihren Hass!’ – and doesn’t want to bring down
hatred and fear on Thoas and the Taurids. She also claims she knows better than him what he needs
for happiness – the civilised as more powerful than the barbarians again.
Act II
Scene I
Orestes, too, isolated from his family and his people, is miserable, and indeed demented. His
unhappiness as a consequence of matricide. Distance from Greece contributes too – he refers to Tauris
as a ‘Trauerland’ (593). He is left with only Pylades to cling to – ‘Dein Leben oder Tod gibt mir allein
noch Hoffnung oder Furcht’ (594/595). Pylades, though, still has a purpose, not feeling isolated and
left out so badly, saying ‘ich bin noch nicht, Orest, wie du bereit, in jenes Schattenreich hinabzugehn’
(596/597). Pylades remains hopeful and places his trust in the Gods, Orestes does not. Orestes longs
for his childhood, yes, but more specifically his childhood with his family in Greece (ca. lines 650).
Scene II

making Iphigenia exceptionally happy because she is now with her family again. as these become the goals of the characters. Pylades loves it too – ‘O suesse Stimme!’ (803). . As Iphigenia says. homeland. but knows he can’t get relief from Orestes’ crime from her. they would be happy. but the happiness is overshadowed by Orestes reminding her of the curse. his guilt is relieved somewhat and he can be happy with Iphigenia again. Orestes is not happy. so happiness is the inevitable consequence of attaining the ‘right’ position for them. and freedom. If only people would fulfil their ideals. because his guilt still weighs down on him.The immediate effect of a Greek on Iphigenia. 980-987 – the second vessel of happiness. consequentially. Iphigenia is ecstatic knowing that her siblings survive. Iphigenia as a play about happiness presents the idea of happiness. Scene II Orestes’ dream introduces the possibility of forgiveness after death and. as an ultimate goal – by showing from the very beginning how happiness is tied up with family. (1341-2) Act IV Scene I Iphigenia still sees happiness as something out of control – she is a pawn of the gods and fate (13705). she feels ‘Glueck and Elend’ (1255). He seeks comfort from Iphigenia. family. However. Scene III Orestes: ‘Lass mich zum erstenmal mit freiem Herzen in deinen Armen reine Freude haben. Iphigenia tries to cheer Orestes slightly. perhaps indirectly. Summary Happiness is predicated upon control of one’s own destiny and the sense of belonging. Act III Scene I Opens with Iphigenia saying ‘Ungluecklicher’ to Orestes – the concept of happiness is raised with the very first word of the act (926). Orestes reveals himself. whilst still warning him of his ultimate fate. She is also hinged onto Orestes as a source of happiness for her (1389-94).