Andromache, by Racine: A Tragedy in Five Acts

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Euripides ' play Andromache and the third book of Virgil 's Aeneid were the points of departure for Racine's play. The play takes place in the aftermath of the Trojan War , during which Andromache 's husband Hector , son of Priam , has been slain by Achilles and their young son Astyanax has narrowly escaped a similar fate at the hands of Ulysses , who has unknowingly been tricked into killing another child in his place.

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Andromache has been taken prisoner in Epirus by Pyrrhus , son of Achilles, who is due to be married to Hermione , the only daughter of the Spartan king Menelaus and Helen of Troy. Orestes , son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra , brother to Electra and Iphigenia , and by now absolved of the crime of matricide prophesied by the Delphic oracle , has come to the court of Pyrrhus to plead on behalf of the Greeks for the return of Astyanax. Racine's play is a story of human passion, with the structure of an unrequited love chain: Orestes is in love with Hermione, who only wishes to please Pyrrhus, who is in love with Andromaque, who is determined to honour the memory of her murdered husband Hector and to protect the future of their son Astyanax.

Orestes' presence at the court of Pyrrhus unleashes a violent undoing of the chain.

Andromache : A Tragedy in Five Acts

At the climax, provoked by Hermione's desperation, Pyrrhus is murdered by Orestes' men in a mad rage; this only serves to deepen Hermione's despair. She takes her own life by the side of Pyrrhus and Orestes goes mad.

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  • The importance of the theme of gallantry is a common feature with Racine's previous work, Alexandre le Grand. Act 1: Orestes, Greek ambassador, arrives at the court of Pyrrhus, supposedly to convince him on behalf of the Greeks to put Astyanax, the son of Andromaque and Hector, to death, for fear that he may one day avenge Troy.


    Actually Oreste hopes Pyrrhus will refuse, so Hermione will return to Greece with him. Pyrrhus refuses at first, then, upon being rejected by Andromaque, he threatens to turn Astyanax over to the Greeks. Act 2: Orestes speaks to Hermione, who agrees to leave with him if Pyrrhus allows it. However, Pyrrhus, heretofore uninterested in Hermione, announces to Orestes that he has decided to marry her, and that he will give him Astyanax.

    Act 3: Orestes is furious over having lost Hermione for good. Andromaque begs Hermione to influence Pyrrhus to spare her son, but Hermione, insanely proud, refuses her.

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    Pyrrhus agrees to reverse his decision if Andromaque will marry him. She hesitates, unsure of what to do.

    Act 4: Andromaque resolves to marry Pyrrhus in order to save her son, but intends suicide as soon as the ceremony is over, so that she remains faithful to her late husband Hector. Hermione asks Orestes to avenge her scorn from Pyrrhus by killing him. Act 5: Hermione regrets asking for Pyrrhus' death.

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    Before she can cancel her request, Orestes appears and announces that Pyrrhus is dead, though not at Orestes' hand - his Greeks became enraged when Pyrrhus recognized Astyanax as king of Troy. She thanks him with wild insults and runs off to kill herself on Pyrrhus' body. When Hermione, who is in love with Pyrrhus, learns of the imminent marriage ceremony, she decides to exploit the love Orestes has for her to induce him to kill Pyrrhus in revenge.

    Andromache: tragedy in five acts, - Jean Racine, Richard Wilbur - Google книги

    In order to win the favour of his love, Orestes kills Pyrrhus. Hermione then denies her involvement as an accessory, placing the responsibility for the crime upon the shoulders of Orestes, and kills herself. Orestes is driven to madness, and Andromache to a throne she never desired.

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    View Press Kit. Synopsis Following the fall of Troy, Andromache, the widow of Hector, is made the slave of Pyrrhus, son of Achilles, and finds herself in Epirus with her son Astyanax.