Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Mountain cavern. Ostensible resting place of the souls of the dead, who emerge on this day each year. This artificial device, invented by Aegisthus and Zeus, justifies the permanent state of remorse in which the inhabitants of Argos are kept by their ruler, the better to control them. (Parallels with Occupied France cannot be missed here.) Here, too, Zeus can play his magician’s tricks with the rock that normally blocks the entrance–a childish display that impresses the inhabitants of Argos but leaves Orestes unmoved.
Palace. Home of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra; place in which Orestes spent his earliest years. His memories provide a flavor of innocence that contrasts with and emphasizes the horrendous nature of his act when he kills his mother in the very palace in which she gave birth to him.
The throne room of the palace, like the public square, is dominated by a statue of Zeus. Aegisthus’s death at the foot of the statue hints that Orestes’s blow is aimed as much at Zeus as at his henchman, and the curse Aegisthus lays upon Electra and Orestes, reinforced by his warning to beware of the flies, is more menacing because it is Zeus who will give effect to the curse and unleash the flies.
Sartre locates Clytemnestra’s death offstage, though still within the palace. As Electra listens to the commotion on stage beneath the statue of Zeus, her self-confidence wanes, and later Zeus regains control over her.
*Temple of Apollo. Place in Argos. In the late 1930’s, French archaeologists unearthed ruins in Argos that they declared to be a temple dedicated to Apollo. The discovery became known in France as a French achievement. The outbreak of World War II prevented further digging, but when Sartre needed a place in his play in which Electra and Orestes could seek sanctuary, he remembered the temple of Apollo and realized it lent plausibility to the location. The fact that the temple is dedicated to the god Apollo is irrelevant to the drama. What matters is that Electra and Orestes should be safe from the baying crowd while Zeus tempts them with his offer of protection if only they will show remorse.