Jean Racine, Andromaque
Racine, Jean. Andromaque. En Théatre Complet I. Paris: Garnier-Flammarion, 1964 (1668).
I had expected this one to end up more or less like Phèdre; a consecutive chain of unrequited desire threatens to undermine projects of state... meanwhile Andromaque, in the impossible position of extortion for her son’s life, is forced to simultaneously plot his salvation and her own death. You could derive the whole thing from the fact that larmes rhymes with charmes, and that isn’t a knock; Racine’s simplicity is his beauty. So I was bouncing along with the alexandrines, appreciating the rhetoric and expecting the usual relaxant catharsis with all the aristocrats dyingand that is sort of what happens, but the fifth act brings a number of reversals that I really wasn’t expecting and which leave the violence frighteningly unfinished. As the curtain falls the Trojan War is set to start all over again, in displaced form, and Aeschylus could have told you that an infinite revenge cycle yields no tragic comfort at all. It gives me the fantods. I have to go to bed.