Jean Racine: Phèdre [Phaedra]

(2873 words)
  • Edward Forman (University of Bristol)

Jean Racine’s five-act verse tragedy Phèdre, originally entitled Phèdre et Hippolyte, exemplifies all the characteristics of the classical æsthetic of theatre in their purest form, and is generally considered Racine’s masterpiece. In his version of the story of Hippolytos and Phaedra, Racine focuses less on the relationship between Hippolytos and Aphrodite – where Phaedra is merely the instrument by which Aphrodite brings about the destruction of the misogynistic and arrogant prince of Athens – than on the feelings of Phèdre herself, gripped as she feels by a helpless infatuation with her stepson, inflicted on her by Vénus, who has vowed to curse all the descendants of the sun god, Phèdre’s grandfather …

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Forman, Edward. "Phèdre". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 August 2016
[, accessed 29 September 2016.]