After having returned from the Trojan wars, Agamemnon was killed in his bath by his wife Klytaemnestra and her lover Aegisth. Both daughters, Elektra and Chrysothemis have been kept subjugated at the level of servants ever since. Their brother Orest was surreptitiously taken away from court after the bloody deed.
In Mykenas five maids discuss the awful and similarly explosive situation at court. Princess Elektra is the object of their sniggering remarks because she is regarded as seeing herself still above others. The youngest of them, however, defends Elektra but is rebuked for it by the others.
Elektra places herself in the thrall of recurring visions of her beloved father Agamemnon’s murder. Taking revenge on his murderers – her mother Klytaemnestra and Aegisth – is her sole preoccupation now in life. She awaits her brother Orest’s return.
Chrysothemis, the younger sister, warns Elektra that Klytaemnestra has got plans to imprison her. Chrysothemis desperately urges Elektra to accept the situation as it is, and to denounce all feelings of hatred as they will only lead them to captivity. Chrysothemis' will to survive at all costs only fuels her sister's anger further. Elektra turns her away.
Klytaemnestra is tormented by nightmares and because of that, she plans to offer a ritual sacrifice in order to find some peace of mind. She then seeks Elektra's advice on which animal to select.
Elektra suggests a human sacrifice. Her feelings for her mother's desperate state are close to pity, yet when Klytaemnestra refuses to break her relationship with Aegisth, Elektra's feelings of revenge are back again and for her it seems clear that her mother must be the human sacrifice. Suddenly, news of Orest's death arrive and Klytaemnestra rejoices.
Elektra is determined to complete the act of revenge with the help of her sister. Chrysothemis, however, resists Elektra's attempt to subtly seduce her to violence. Elektra curses her and starts digging for the axe, the weapon that murdered her father and that she subsequently buried. A stranger appears. He confirms Orest’s death. It is only due to Elektra’s desperation that the stranger senses a member of his own blood in Elektra: It is Orest himself and the siblings recognize each other.
Orest then finishes what destiny had designed him for: he murders his mother. Her last screams have the maids gather round. Aegisth, who was called by a servant, arrives to convince himself of Orest’s death. Elektra leads the way and he too gets killed by Orest. Once released, Chrysothemis rejoices at the murder. After slowly becoming aware of the full extent of her share in the murder Elektra collapses. The matricide’s burden of guilt now rests with the new dictator – Orest.