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Drawing on Greek mythology and reworking a story that had been told in different forms by Euripides and Seneca, Jean Racine’s Phaedra revolves around a mother’s illicit passion for her stepson. Theseus, the king of Athens, has been absent for six long months, during which his wife Phaedra has been consumed by a powerful love for her stepson Hippolytus. She has kept her passion secret, to the detriment of her physical health, and unable to bear the pressure any longer she finally confesses to her nurse. When news arrives that Theseus is dead, the nurse suggests that Phaedra’s love for Hippolytus is now legitimate, and recommends that she offer him the crown. Phaedra wildly confesses her love to Hippolytus, who reacts with horror. He is in fact in love with Aricia, who has been trapped under a vow of chastity against her will. The love plot thickens when Theseus—very much alive—returns to Athens in perfect health. Phaedra is plagued by guilt about her forbidden feelings, and Hippolytus is anxious to avoid his stepmother. The nurse threatens to destroy this fragile balance when she tells Theseus that Hippolytus tried to rape Phaedra. Her lie unleashes a violent chain of events that culminates in forgiveness and atonement, but only after a tragic death.
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THESEUS, son of Aegeus and King of Athens.
PHAEDRA, wife of Theseus and Daughter of Minos and Pasiphae.
HIPPOLYTUS, son of Theseus and Antiope, Queen of the Amazons.
ARICIA, Princess of the Blood Royal of Athens.
OENONE, nurse of Phaedra.
THERAMENES, tutor of Hippolytus.
ISMENE, bosom friend of ...
Ratings for 'Phaedra' by Racine, Jean Baptiste