Presentation of Phaedra and Nurse in Hippolytus - words | Study Guides and Book Summaries
In Greek mythology, Phaedra /ˈfiːdrə, ˈfɛdrə/ (Ancient Greek: Φαίδρα, Phaidra ) (or Fedra) Though married to Theseus, Phaedra fell in love with Hippolytus, Theseus's son by another woman (born to either Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons. The Trajectory of Passion: Relationship Structure in Racine's Phèdre 1 “The . drama draws on the older sources of Euripides' Hippolytus and Seneca's Phaedra. . two (made possible, for example, by the love of Hippolytus and Aricia) can tip. 3 Undoubtedly the fame of Phaedra and Hippolytus goes inextricably hand by hand. relationship.8 But her propositioning him directly was something even more .. Independently from where the balance tips, i.e., whether in favor of Phaedra.
Though Patrick Swinden of the University of Manchester posits that satisfactory translation of Racine into English is an impossibility, his stance is largely in regards to the meter and verse components of the language itself Swinden The analysis here focuses on the nature and structure of the relationships between the characters as opposed to the content of their speeches and poetical flourishes, and such structures can be readily translated from language to language.
English One-O-Worst: Impossible Choices: The Moral Tragedy of Phaedra
By stripping away concerns with the poetry, one can then turn to the structural concerns that transcend time and linguistic barrier.
Upon believing her husband, Theseus, to be dead,and with the goading of her handmaiden Oenone, she confesses her forbidden passion to Hippolytus. Hippolytus, however, harbours a forbidden love of Aricia, sister to a family that threatened his father's lordship over Athens. He confesses his love as well upon believing his father to be dead. Upon Theseus' return to Troezen, Hippolytus is slandered by Oenone and is killed by godly wrath called down by Theseus.
Racine's drama draws on the older sources of Euripides' Hippolytus and Seneca's Phaedra. Though Seneca's work is an adaptation as well, Racine does draw influence from both in his writing. However, Racine's work does bear some radical differences from its predecessors. Firstly, Racine eliminates the gods from the production. Though the elimination of such marvels is demanded by the tenets of Neoclassicism, it also has the effect of reducing the action to the purely human plane.
Further, Racine invents Aricia out of whole cloth. This has the effect of maintaining structural symmetry by including a 5 love interest for Hippolytus, while at the same time giving reason to the action. These structural changes to the play wrench the focus from concepts of fate and destiny, or divine wrath, to human actions, adding import to the relationships between the characters, as opposed to simply treating such as tools in the hands of gods.
The standards of Neoclassicism, based primarily upon the works of Italian writer Lodovico Castelvetro and brought to France when that same author fled the Inquisition, centers on the concept of vraisemblance, translated into English as verisimilitude.
This focus on believability, which passed to France over time, forms the root of those other standards for which Neoclassicism is known. Though early in the seventeenth century the need for verisimilitude was seen as a product of the stage's role in moral education, even amoral dramatists saw fit to enshrine it as the style developed.
Prior to this, the 6 idea that characters should behave according to type was largely an issue of dramatic construction. Just as Racine banished much of his own theological concerns from the play, so to did he banish wider issues from the world of the play. These unities banish all other concerns and thereby intensify the focus on what actually happens upon the stage itself. The audience then focuses on the pain and turmoil of the characters, as opposed to wider or more diffuse concerns.
The unity of time, with its concern that no more than a day should elapse in course of action depicted by the play, condenses the audience concern for what happens onstage. However, she does not leave the stage until the end of III. The content of Oenone's slander is similarly diminished in importance. By not providing a length of time for the slander, Racine renders it difficult, if not impossible, to discern the nature of what is being said.
Neoclassical standards in regards to time diminish the importance of this offstage conversation. If one held pure textual content as the primary driver of meaning in a play, Oenone's aspersion of Hippolytus should hold fertile material for examination, as the precise nature of the accusations should matter.
However, in terms of the structure, it matters not what Oenone says, but simply that she is saying it to Theseus and that it is essentially negative in regards to Hippolytus. As the conversation is not happening on stage, the precise words exchanged between Theseus and Oenone cannot matter.
The play is dramatically coherent without this material, so long as the material is understood to be negative in regards to Hippolytus, and as such it is left out of the play altogether. If emphasis were to be placed on the content of speeches as generating meaning, as opposed to action in accordance with Johnstone's rule, then it would be all the more important to bring it on stage.
What are you telling me? What kind of traitor prepares this outrage to his father's honor? The fatal words have already been spoken. As to their specific nature, there is no clue. However, this lack of salacious content combines well with the the tenets of decorum, as negative conceptions of Hippolytus are kept from the public eye, as is befitting a hero. Thus, the unity of time manages to protect the 8 audience's views of the young hero, maintaining his purity to render his death all the more troubling.
The unity of place, positing that each play should take place in one single location, banishes the political concerns of the wider world to allow the audience to focus on the crisis of these characters. Aside from a few passing references, the location of the play is barely addressed. Thus, as opposed to being afforded the ability to colour audience opinion of the characters from something outside of their onstage actions, such as their choice of decor, the audience is left simply with Troezen, a city in the Peloponnesus.
Further, one should note that the very choice of Troezen works towards the banishment of outside concerns, thus assisting the unity of place. This concept is echoed in another form by Thomas J. Essentially, the facts of classical stories can be set aside in order to facilitate the structure and needs of the story as outlined by the author.
However, the use of these far more famous cities Athens and Sparta would also create a certain resonance in the 9 minds of the audience, bringing cultural expectation. Troezen, however, forms a blank slate to draw focus towards what is actually taking place onstage. This structural reliance on a neutral location is not only common to Neoclassical drama, but one cannot help but notice a parallel with the Louis XIV's consolidating of the aristocracy at his new palace in Versailles as well.
By mirroring the monarch's actions and ensuring the unity of place, the play's structure seems to carry a tacit endorsement of the regime itself. Hippolytus takes steps to ensure the unity of place when outside concerns begin to encroach on Racine's blank canvas. When discussing the Athenian kingship with Aricia in II. He acknowledges the conflict between their two families, he also cedes the rulership of Athens to his rival. Though motivated by his established love for Aricia, this action has the added effect of nullifying more widespread political and social upheaval.
As Athenian political concerns might distract the audience due to their sheer 10 magnitude, Hippolytus neutralizes the issue and audience concerns are taken from the wider world. Though other locations are acknowledged as existing, they have little bearing on the activities of the play itself. Though the conflicts of this piece may easily give rise to numerous other concerns, these are invariably disposed of quickly.
However, unity of action limits these concerns from intruding on the action. Though political issues may be effective for increasing the overall magnitude of the conflict, they also would serve to obscure or lessen the cataclysmic personal failures of the characters actually on stage in front of the audience. However, stripping overt political content from the play creates a political component.
David Quint writes in Modern Language Quarterly that Racine's tragedy cannot be divorced from France's current political situation.
The political content of the play hinges on uncertainty. Three viable claimants to the throne all jockey for position, and an alliance between any two made possible, for example, by the love of Hippolytus and Aricia can tip the balance.
Hippolytus' essential abdication, as demanded by the unity of action, is not only a token of love, but also a way of pushing political 11 content to the rear and allowing the political nature of the structure to assert itself. Further, Louis steadily was consolidating the power of the absolute monarch that would last until the French Revolution in Shelving uncertain political content gives the structure of the play a political flavour in terms of enforcing the status quo and backing the views of the dominant monarchical regime.
Given that these unities relieve the audience and artist from the cares of the wider world in the play, it should follow that they also free the audience from the specters of Jansenist theology and literary respectability.
As Racine strips the fable of much of its worldly context through the elegant enforcement of the Unities, one can also assume that many details of his life, laying outside the play in and of itself, are also obscured. One is then freed to pursue analysis of the play on the structural grounds inherent in the text itself. Particular attention should be paid to the Neoclassical sense of decorum. Decorum, the concept that all things in a play should bear a stamp of social propriety, has special bearing on an examination of the symmetrical relationships in this play.
However, though Braga takes time to delve into this relationship, he points his analysis towards theology and the varying worldview of these two characters. Far more fruitful would be to turn towards the nature of their 12 relationship in structural terms of power and agency, particularly in comparison to the counterpoint relationship between Hippolytus and Theramenes.
Structural, as opposed to theological focus, is supported not only by the bulk of Racine's own theoretical work, but also by the fact that bienseance would not be expanded to include moral teaching for a number of years. One will find that the great conflict of the play, along with the very spirit of decorum, encapsulated in the power dynamic of each of these relationships.
Racine immediately introduces the audience to the characters of Hippolytus and Theramenes, son of Theseus and his tutor. As Theramenes begins to discuss Hippolytus' flight from Troezen, he does not presume upon his longtime relationship, but instead retains a respectful distance. Hippolytus thus is allowed to affirm or deny what is asked, retaining self-mastery, while his tutor probes but never dominates him.
If one accepts Theramenes as a longtime tutor and companion to Hippolytus, it becomes difficult to accept that Theramenes simply would not know his master's habits of mind, and as such the questioning becomes a matter of respectful decorum over uncertainty. The unhappy love of Phaedra towards Hippolytus was carved several times on Roman sarcophagi.
The sculptors represented this myth in two variants, both organized into two panels. The scene carved on the leftmost panel is always the same. It represents the main characters in their house: Phaedra with her nurse surrounded by some handmaids, and Hippolytus ready for the hunt. The two versions differ for the subject carved on the rightmost panel.
This sarcophagus is an example of the first variant in which the heroic scene of wild boar hunting follows the domestic scene. In more recent time the hunting scene is been substituted with a scene involving other characters and temporally and geographically distant from the previous one: An archway divides the front panel of the sarcophagus into two halves. At the far left of the frieze sits the richly dressed Phaedra on a sumptuous throne, the arm-rests of which are supported on a sphinx. Overcome by her longing for her handsome stepson, she has turned her head towards a female servant standing behind her; to her right another servant props her chin in her hand, either listening or thinking.
The lovesick heroine is portrayed as a respectable and desirable woman of high social standing: He holds a spear or lance in his left hand and wears only a chlamys, and stands in front of a temple, doubtless that of Artemis, while his horse beside him paws the ground impatiently.
She is holding out her left hand in entreaty or supplication, and has brought her right hand to her mouth in an ambiguous gesture.
Two servants accompany Hippolytus: Beyond the wall limiting the domestic ambience, in the right half of the frieze, Hippolytus is engaged in his favorite activity: Riding his horse, he is about to throw his spear against a wild boar suddenly came out from the trees. One of his dogs has already bitten a leg of the beast.