Bones Theory

Booth and Agamemnon


Man’s Will vs God’s Will


Hm. Where to start?

 I suppose, first of all, I’ll tell you where this all came from. On Tuesdays, I have Therapy, Greek & Roman Theatre, and History of Theatre 2. That being said, I apologize now for the complete and utter nerdiness of this.

Tuesday started off, per usual, with a discussion of my life in relation to Bones. We discussed the finale of Season 4, D-Day [100th], and the finale of Season 5. The woman I was talking to even brought up Hannah. On the whole, it was unexpected. Anyway, we were discussing Booth’s two proposals: One to Brennan, One to Hannah.

Booth keeps getting turned down. This led to the woman saying, “It’s interesting that it’s the ‘manly-man’ in the show that wants it all: Marriage, a family, the whole shebang. But he keeps getting turned down. It’s like he’s cursed.”

Now, let’s move on my first class of the day: Greek & Roman Theatre. For the last few classes we’ve been discussing The Oresteia Trilogy. For those who don’t know (or care!) what that is, it’s a series of three plays that tell the story of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and Orestes, their son. The quick, fast, and dirty version of the plots are this: Agamemnon’s ancestors screwed up. This led Atreus, Agamemnon’s father, to kill his nephews and feed them to his brother, Thyestes. Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter in order to gain favorable winds for war. He goes to war, leaving his wife, Clytemnestra, to be in charge. She sends Orestes away, teams up with Aegisthus, the only remaining son of Thyestes, and kills Agamemnon and his mistress when they arrive back from the war. Orestes finds out, kills his mother, Clytemnestra, and is then brought up on the Ancient Greek equivalent of charges. He is put on “trial” and the trilogy ends with Orestes not getting punished.

This whole series of violence and problems was started by Tantalus, the first in the lineage. He did something bad [cooked his son and fed to the Gods]. From then on, the descendants were cursed. It became known as The Curse of The House of Atreus. From Tantalus to Orestes, they were all doomed.

Okay. That class ended and I moved to History of Theatre 2.

We are currently discussing English Language Theatre in the 1800s. Edwin Booth, son of Julius Brutus and brother of John Wilkes and JB junior, has almost an entire page in our textbook dedicated to him. [BTW, JB junior? JB? Jared Booth? Coincidence?] We spent the majority of the class discussing the Booth family, their actor legacy, and pictures of them. The Booth men were, quite literally, household names and the best in their profession.

 And then John Wilkes had to go and shoot the president. [He literally shoots Lincoln, jumps onto the stage yells “Sic Semper Tyrannus” and runs off. Only an actor would do it that dramatically. BTW.] From then on, the Booth name was very much a “Kiss of Death”. Even estranged relatives that married into the family were looked down upon.

So here is where it all comes together. There is The Curse of The House of Atreus. A last name that is considered cursed. And a man, albeit fictional, who keeps getting shut down. Coincidence? I think not.

So, here’s my question. Does this connection even apply? Can Seeley be the Booth version of Orestes? Can he be the one to break “The Curse of The House of Booth”? Or is he stuck in the cycle, like many before him, and it will be only his heirs who have a chance to “transfer the duty of imposing justice” and break the cycle?

Back to the beginning, to my title. I am not a religious person, but a major theme in The Oresteia Trilogy is Man’s Will vs God’s Will. Can Booth break this self-perpetuating cycle of loss? Or is this something from “The Gods” or God?

Thoughts from you? Can Booth get past himself in order to be himself? Can the man who believes in fate escape what seems to be his? Does that even make sense? That’s where you come in! Let’s discuss!


16 thoughts on “Booth and Agamemnon

  1. Booth’s life does seem to be cursed. His father was an acoholic child beater that was driven from his family by his father. Booth saw the terrible side of fatherhood, his father, and the wonderful side of fatherhood, Pops. Booth’s curse seems to be that he craves the kind of family that Pops had. He does want it all, marriage, a wife and kids. His problem is that the women he is attracted to don’t neccessarily want the things he wants at the time he wants them. The rejections he has had, while trying to achive the family he wants, have definitely hurt him and made him insecure. Part of his strength seems to be his belief in God. He takes strength from knowing that the Man Upstairs is watching over him. He also gets his strength from his close friendship with Brennan. He relies on her to be on his side. To have his back. She may have rejected his idea of closeness in 100; but, he can not bring himself to sever his ties from her. She is his best friend. A man cursed with wanting the seemingly unattainable; but, a man who has the friendship of someone who is so strong can probably be saved from his fate. Ultimately, that friendship will be his rescue.

  2. oh my very nerdy heart grew three sizes today upon reading this post

  3. This is why I love BT. Where else can a person discuss Greek tragedy and how it relates to their favorite TV show?
    Rational empiricist that I am, I don’t believe in curses and such, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Booth feels that way right now. I’m not sure he’d see it as a multi-generational curse that is the fault of his many great grandfather, but it sure is fun to think about and discuss.
    Great post, toberlove

  4. Lovely post; I envy your classes! Ahhh, for those college days-enjoy them while you can! As for Booth, the words that I hope come into play for him are Atonement and Redemption. Both words go hand in hand because atoning for past personal actions (and in mythology, for collective ones) can lead to redemption, especially within the Christian world view that Booth embraces. That Booth is self-aware, that he has a conscience, that he chose to do bad things (sniping) for the greater good and is now attempting to “make things right” gives me hope that his suffering will not be in vain. He has in a way already redeemed himself even in his own eyes, although his efforts are often clouded with self-doubt. He’s a wonderful father, a loyal friend, his past experiences could have led him down the road to perdition (his gambling, his father’s drinking) yet he has risen above that. So in a way, he has been rewarded in many ways for the huge efforts he’s made at self-improvement.

    That his efforts with women haven’t paid off yet is not so much due to the fact that he picks unattainable women or that he has unrealistic expectations as some feel, but to the fact that he wants total and complete equality in marriage. Maybe because that’s what Pops had with his wife, or because Booth saw what happened when a weak woman took up with a strong man (his parents.) He may be afraid that if he doesn’t pick a strong woman, someone that can stand up for herself, his own strong personality may take over and degenerate into something uglier as it did with his dad. Whatever the reason, he wants parity and independence in a woman while craving devotion and affection. More often than not, these goals are at odds with each other, but I don’t believe they’re unworthy ones to have. But now he has come to understand that he’s found “the one,” that person who he feels is capable of joining with him in just that way (and we all know who that is!) He hung around her, waiting, and it was only when she seemed completely out of reach that he was willing to compromise because loneliness and isolation can become overwhelming-but it doesn’t mean he ceased to think of her as his soulmate.

    Because of Booth’s deeply spiritual, Catholic nature I don’t think he really believes in “a curse” per se, either personal or familiial, but I do think that he does believe in luck and maybe he’s starting to truly believe that he is unlucky with women, unworthy in that way. Not a good thing, because negative thoughts are a major speedbump on the road to love. Maybe he’s starting to believe that “fate”, the guiding hand from above, has determined that this one thing will not be for him to have. But the fact that “the one” is still around, that she has changed him for the better and allowed herself to be changed by him in ways that have brought them much closer ultimately gives me hope that Booth will find redemption in love just as Brennan will get to experience the full life she wants, free from her own family curse. Hopefully a loving God, as Booth sees him, (and the writers-ha!) will take pity on our two wandering souls and let them find contentment in each other. After all, didn’t HH say that he writes the show from his own agnostic point of view, but that God writes Booth’s part? And if he didn’t say it, it still sounds nice. (PS sorry for the ramblings-it’s my English Lit demon coming out for a stroll…)

  5. If Booth is cursed, it’s a self-fulfilling one. For all his accomplishments, he has so many insecurities.
    When he reflects on the women he’s loved and lost, he blames himself “why didn’t they want me”, when in each case the women said no for reasons that had nothing to do with him.

    I think Booth feels there is something fundamentally wrong with him that makes him inherently unlovable.

    • I think a lot of survivors of child abuse might feel that way. That there must be something wrong with them that their parent could treat them so badly

  6. I think you analogy is accurate, and the ‘curse’ started with Booth’s father, or maybe even Pops if there is some darkness in his background that we’re not aware of. I liked the connection you made, and appreciate you bringing your theater and Greek knowledge to bear on the Bones universe.

    I think Booth has a good chance of breaking the cycle though. Every trial of pain has been answered by something to offset it. Grew up with his dad, but was rescued by Pops. Tortured in the Army, but successful FBI career. Heart broken by Rebecca, but a wonderful son. Heartbreak over Brennan, but still a partnership… and so on. He’s done his best to raise Parker the best way he knows how, and I think Booth would rather take the burden upon himself than hurt him.

    He’s a fundamentally good, if flawed person. I’d say his tragic flaw is his pride/stubbornness. But that’s something he can overcome, and though others can help him, It will probably be Brennan that can redeem him most effectively. She has her own flaws and can start to see past the outwardly cocky veneer down to who he is.

  7. Hmmmmmmmmm….very very good post here. So good it actually made me think which is no mean feat on a Thursday 😉

    I understand what you mean with this but i don’t…well, it’s not that i don’t agree it’s more that i….bugger, i have no idea what i am trying to say! LOL

    Let me start again.

    The problem with the idea of someone being ‘cursed’ or that their life is down to ‘fate’ is that people can use it as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.

    I may be able to get on board with the ‘Booth is cursed’ train of thought IF he wasn’t responsible for the things he may be ‘cursed’ for. But he is. Responsible, i mean.

    Now, i’m not saying that everything that has happened to Booth is his fault. BUT the rejections he suffered from Rebecca, Brennan and Hannah…he had a large part to play. And i don’t like the idea of us seeing him as ‘cursed’ because, for me, it’s just one more way in which to say he’s not to blame.

    And he is. One of the things that annoys me the most is the fact that Booth hasn’t taken any ownership for the mistakes he has made.

    It does make me smile in a odd kind of way. This is a man who takes on the responsibilty and weight of problems completely out of his control. The guilt he has for his Ranger past and the life he led in the army, even though he was only doing as ordered. The guilt for the danger Brennan has been in the past, even though that was out of his control. But the mistakes he has actually made that he is at fault for? Yeah…those he ignores 😛

    That went off on a tangent, didn’t it?! Whoops…anyway, still an awesome post 😀

    • I so agree! Booth takes the blame for things that are totally out of his control, and blames others for the things that are in his control.

      Just one of his many paradoxes.

  8. Fascinating post!

    I adore nerdy analysis, this is why I come to Bones Theory.

    I don’t believe in curses, but I believe that Booth believes his curse, and that belief is turning into a self fulfilling prophecy. I think it’s interesting that Booth is very insecure about being a descendant of John Wilkes Booth. He got mad at Brennan just for bringing it up, which suggests that he does believe his blood is tainted. This leads to him being an insecure person, which leads to him putting himself into situations that will only make him for more insecure, such as chasing the unattainable. Subconsciously, he is manipulating situations to reaffirm his identity as a cursed/damaged man. He needs to hold on to that identity so he doesn’t have to face the truth of himself.

  9. Interesting concept to discuss here. I don’t believe in curses and I doubt Booth does either. I think he believes in free will, personal responsibility and redemption when we make bad choices. The problem is that he thinks his past might make others pause before getting involved which is why he asks Brennan not to talk about his Booth lineage. It’s not that he feels cursed but just that he doubts his own actions and abilities when it comes to relationships. I think his little breakdown in Daredevil was his way of having a little introspection into why things went wrong with Hannah and not some deeper desperate feeling that he is cursed and therefore couldn’t be successful no matter what he did. If that is how he felt, why bother trying at all! He knows he needs to heal before he can start again and he is working towards that.

  10. I just wanted to add my thanks for this spectacularly written post. I never would have thought to compare Booth’s situation to ancient Greek tragedy, and you did it so wonderfully! 🙂 It brought to mind the F Scott Fitzgerald quote: “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.” Interesting how it doesn’t seem to matter what century it is, that line holds true.

  11. So…my brain is a little too tired right now to develop a response as smart and interesting as your post (and fellow commenters), but I just have to say that I am giddy over this post. I LOVED it! I find it all so interesting and I love the connections you drew. 🙂

  12. As a student of Classics, the first thing I thought when I saw the title of this post was, Booth is nothing like Agememnon. I honestly didn’t see the House of Atreus parallel coming. As for your theorising about Booth and his seemingly unrealistic bad luck with women, I’m going to cut and paste something that I’d posted early on on another page because I think it may be relevant here:
    See the thing is, and I realised this only later, with the benefit of hindsight- Booth’s never really had a committed relationship with anyone, because he’s never committed himself to anyone. He couldn’t, after he met Bones. Even in the sixth, when he asks her to marry him, he’s pretty much asking her to say no- he knows she’ll say no, he knows she doesn’t want to get married, and he’s telling her that’s not enough, that she’s not enough, that she’s never going to be enough. That he’d never settle for anything less, anything else- unless it’s Bones. He’s never ‘revealed’ himself to anyone. He doesn’t give everything. Not with Rebecca, Tessa, Cam, any of the others. He’s never fully given himself to anyone except for Brennan. It’s not that women don’t want what he has to offer, it’s that they want everything he has to offer. But it’s not his to offer. It belongs to Bones. He belongs with Bones. It’s impossible not to know that. It isn’t that these women- incomprehensibly- don’t want Booth. They want it all. We all do. They want his lion heart. And I’m sure Booth thinks he even wants to give it to them. But he can’t. After all, the heart chooses what it chooses, doesn’t it? And we don’t really have any say in the matter.

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