The Myth of Eurydice

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The myth of Eurydice is a sad story in which two lovers are separated by death. After his love dies, Orpheus journeys into the underworld to retrieve her, but instead loses her for good. Playwright Sarah Ruhl takes the myth of Eurydice and attempts to transform this sad tale into a more light-hearted story. However, despite humorous lines and actions throughout the play, the melancholy situation of the actual tale overwhelms any comicality present. Although meant to be funny, Sarah Ruhl's “Eurydice” can be seen as a modernized tragedy about two lovers who are separated forever by a twist of fate.

As the play begins, the dialogue between Orpheus and Eurydice reveals that the two are definitely very affectionate toward each other. As Orpheus explains his song he has written for Eurydice, he tells her, “your hair will be my orchestra and – I love you.” It is apparent that the two are very fond of one another and wish to spend every moment in each other's arms. However, their love is not perfect; Orpheus appears to value his music more than his lover. When asked what he is thinking about, Orpheus simply replies “music.” He is constantly thinking of music, hearing music, writing music. He once tells Eurydice he is thinking of her, but shortly after admits, “and music.” Eurydice is not oblivious to Orpheus's love for music, and this sometimes upsets her. The first scene shows how different the two characters really are; Orpheus loves music while Eurydice enjoys reading books. However, they are still madly in love with one another. The opening scenes of the play set a beautiful stage for an imminent tragedy.

In scene two the audience is introduced to the father of Eurydice. His monologue informs the audience that ...

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...ou.” This is the same exact wording Orpheus used in his letter to Eurydice. It appears that Eurydice will finally move on and accept the child, the king of the underworld, as her new husband. However, Orpheus will not give up so easily; this is strange because in the opening scene of the play it appears that Eurydice loves him more than he loves her. As Orpheus realizes Eurydice will never be able to return to the real world, he decides to kill himself in order to be with her. This is not directly stated but implied; the stage directions read, “Orpheus appears in the elevator. He sees Eurydice.” Orpheus is happy at this point, but not for long. “The elevator starts raining on Orpheus,” and he forgets everything. The irony of this ending leaves the audience feeling almost heartbroken and sympathetic for the couple, for they will never live happily ever after.

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