Andromaque

Definition

Theater

  • The play by Jean Racine that established his reputation as a great tragic dramatist. It was first performed in 1667 before the king and queen in the queen's apartments, with Racine's mistress Thérèse Du Parc in the title role. The first public performance was given a few days later at the Hôtel de Bourgogne. In this play Racine broke decisively from the conventions of baroque theater with his fast and ingeniously simple plot. The play was staged using elaborate machinery and the new Italian painted scenery.

    The plot draws upon Euripides's play of the same name andon an incident in Virgil's Aeneid. Having slain Hector in theTrojan War, Pyrrhus has abducted his wife, Andromaque. She agreesto marry Pyrrhus in order to save her son's life. The marriage, however,infuriates Hermione, daughter of Helen of Troy, to whom Pyrrhus waspledged. She has him murdered and then commits suicide over his body.

    Because the play shows love overwhelming and destroying all, manycontemporary critics felt that it pandered to the audience's taste for pure passion. Particularly poignant are Andromaque's devotion to her dead husband and the fierce reproaches of Hermione to Pyrrhus.

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