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PHEDRE ­ 17TH CENTURY TRAGEDY
Unusual people in unusual situations >
death ­ genre creates expectations
Aristotle & 17th century conventions ­
create pity & fear:
Moral Ambiguity ­ Phedre: we sympathise for
her
Hamartia ­ Error of judgement: Phedre re
Thesee's death
Unity of time & place = believable. References
to other times and places for intensity.
Therefore successful as a 17th century
tragedy…read more

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PHEDRE ­ MODERN TRAGEDY
Modern conventions:
Culpability: a guilty hero ­ Hippolyte "mon
crime", and when he refuses to tell Phedre's
secret
Transcendence: the divine ­ Phedre blaming gods
Therefore also works as a modern tragedy ­ a
key to Phedre's success?…read more

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VERBAL LANGUAGE
Versification ­ form of 17th century tragedy
Alexandrine: 12 syllable lines, rhyming couplets
Sound patterns:
Terminal rhymes ­ respectueux, incestueux
Repeated sounds ­ flamme funeste
Phonetically memorable & powerful
Rhythm: changes to change mood e.g. Phedre in act 4
­ from control to crumbling re. Hippolyte & Aricie
Shown in sentences over multiple lines ­breathless
Imperative sentence, 1 line = powerful
Imagery: little so appears realistic. Metaphors:
Conventional ­ feu for passion
Unconventional ­ flamme si noire ­ guilty
Monstre ­ 19 references. Mythical vs metaphorical…read more

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VISUAL LANGUAGE
Stage directions:
Only 1 explicit: elle s'asseid
Mostly implicit in 17th century ­ suggested in
speech
Theatre of words ­ actions in speech
E.g. Mes genoux tremblants ­ physical
descriptions evoke emotion for Phedre
Same with props:
Prete-moi ton épée ­ action is written
Focus is on the intense dialouges
Does it need to be performed? Can it just
be read?…read more

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HINTING AT THE FUTURE
Racine sets up later events in dialogues:
N'allons plus point avant ­ Phedre's impending
death (Also Phedre's 1st appearance ­ contrast's
Hippolyte's lively 1st appearance)
Theramene realising Phedre's hiding something ­
sets up curiosity and suspense
Suspense created by cliff-hangers on each act
Phedre referring to love as a poison reflects her
later poisoning herself…read more

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