Essay on Phaedra's Individuality in Tartuffe

Essay on Phaedra's Individuality in Tartuffe

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“I have revealed enough. Spare me the rest. / I die, and my grim secret dies with me.” (Racine 193) Phaedra has a huge secret: she is in love with her stepson, Hippolytus. She has reoccurring thoughts of suicide, and a desire for this burden to be lifted. Her forbidden passion has a gigantic affect on her mental capability and her ability to be independent. She does not want anyone to know about her repugnant desires for Hippolytus and her mental health slowly begins to weaken as she maintains this information to herself. As we look closer into the life of Phaedra, we find she exhibits a lustful, weak-minded, guilty, gullible, and reliant personality.
Phaedra has a very lustful personality. She lusts over her stepson and cannot control it. This love is forbidden and frowned upon, which is why Phaedra keeps it a secret for so long, just like Tartuffe keeps his love for Elmire a secret in Moliere’s work Tartuffe. “I’ve given the neighboring rooms a full inspection; / No one’s about; and now I may at last…” (Moliere 77) Even though Phaedra’s situation is different than that of Tartuffe’s, it can still be seen as a similar situation in terms of forbidden love. Even if Phaedra wanted to stop lusting over Hippolytus, she cannot. According to Lattimore, Aphrodite announces “she has made Phaedra fall in love with Hippolytus, that Phaedra is keeping it a secret and like to die, but she is a necessary instrument for the young man’s punishment.” (7) She cannot part from this world to save herself the misery because she is needed to inflict punishment on Hippolytus. Without her husband, Theseus, here, imagine how much greater Hippolytus’ appeal is. “With Theseus away for over six months on one of his adventures, she burns with ...

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...” (Critchley 17)

Works Cited

Braga, Thomas J. “Double Vision in Racine’s Phedre.” The French Review 64:2 (Dec., 1990): 289-298. JSTOR. Web. 11 Mar. 2014.
Critchley, Simon. “I Want to Die, I Hate My Life—Phaedra’s Malaise.” New Literary History 35:1 (Winter, 2004): 17-40. JSTOR. Web. 11 Mar. 2014.
Lattimore, Richmond. “Phaedra and Hippolytus.” Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics 1.3 (Autumn, 1962): 5-18. JSTOR. Web. 11 Mar. 2014.
Racine, Jean. Phaedra. Literature of the Western World. Eds. Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001. 187-227. Print.
Reckford, Kenneth J. “Phaedra and Pasiphae: The Pull Backward.” Transactions of the American Philological Association 104 (1974): 307-328. JSTOR. Web. 11 Mar. 2014.
Roisman, Hanna M. “The Veiled Hippolytus and Phaedra.” Hermes (4th Qtr., 1999): 397-409. JSTOR. Web. 11 Mar. 2014

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