The Use Of Imagery Of Love In Racine's Phaedra

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Kelli Blue Dr. Edison Williams World Literature 16 October 2007 The Use of the Imagery of Love in Racine’s Phaedra For decades, students in high school and college alike learn about the literature that has been written and passed down through the ages. They quickly learn that there are a few universal themes that often appear in both contemporary and ancient of works. Some of these themes include death, good versus evil, and jealousy. Love also appears as a theme consistently throughout time. In Racine’s Phaedra, the Phaedra uses many images to describe her love for Hippolytus – her stepson. Love is usually seen as a beautiful and wondrous feeling to be shared with someone else. However, Phaedra chooses imagery that speaks nothing of the positive aspects of love – and everything of the negative. She first describes love as madness, a dark abyss, a burning, and a poison. The unflinching pessimism in regards to this matter help to support one of the main themes in Phaedra: passion is a dangerous thing that must be controlled at all times. At the beginning of the play, the reader discovers that Theseus – king of Athens and husband to Phaedra – is assumed dead. Phaedra is suddenly thrust into close proximity with Theseus’ bastard Hippolytus. She panics and begins acting in manner that everyone thinks strange for her. Finally, she admits to her nurse and confidante that she loves “the son of that Amazon mother” (Kline 264). Years before she demanded that Hippolytus be exiled because of this same love for him. Rather than dishonor herself, she has Theseus banish him. After much discussion with both her nurse Oenone and her lady-in-waiting Panope, Phaedra decides to confess her love to Hippolytus and suggest an alliance for the throne. Hippolytus is appalled by this confession and forgets his sword in his hurry to leave her presence. When Theseus returns, this
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