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    Phaedra (Jean Racine's) vs. Emma (Gustave Flaubert)

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    I've been asked to compare and contrast the character of Pheadra from Jean Racine's play "Pheadra" and the character of Emma from Gustave Flaubert's novel "Madame Bovary".

    I am still not clear on what the differences and similarities are between the two characters. Please help. Thank You.

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    We must recall that the legend of Phaedra was a myth charged with overtones of bestiality. Phaedra, the daughter of Pasiphae, was condemned by a heredity that was impure. Her mother, who fell in love with a bull, gave birth to the Minotaur, a creature half bull and half man, which Theseus slew when he came to Crete. Moreover Phaedra's father, Minos, King of Crete, was the son of Europa, who also loved a bull. But this bull was none other than Zeus, King of the Gods in disguise, who brought Europa to Crete on his back. Symbolically Phaedra's passion for Hippolytus, unnatural in the eyes of the seventeenth century, stands for the corruption of the flesh and is reminiscent of her mother's passion for an animal.

    Obviously, the suggestion is clear that Phaedra's passion was similarly corrupt. It was this passion which constituted Phaedra's crime and which drove her to other crimes, less important by comparison, of which Racine writes: "Passion is portrayed only to show what disorder it may cause:" Ironically, the central conflict of Racine's life, balancing his devotion to the church with his worldly passions, plays itself out in the last play he wrote before his conversion. Based on Hippolytus by Euripides, Phaedra is Racine's most concentrated and terrifying vision of human nature. Phaedra, wife of Theseus, King of Athens and Troezen, confesses to her nurse, Enone, that she loves her stepson, Hippolytus. The forbidden desire plunges Phaedra into hopeless despair. When word arrives that her long-absent husband has died, Phaedra reveals her love to Hippolytus. Horrified by her admission, Hippolytus spurns Phaedra. Fearing that Hippolytus will reveal Phaedra's transgression, Enone urges her mistress to accuse Hippolytus of rape. Theseus returns to his home (the news of his death was false) to find his wife in despair. Confronted by his father, Hippolytus denies the charges against him and admits his own transgression in the form of his love for the Athenian princess, Aricia. Theseus banishes Hippolytus and calls on Neptune to punish his son. Phaedra wants to clear Hippolytus's name, but news of his love for Aricia sends her into a jealous rage. After Hippolytus dies because of Neptune's intervention, Phaedra poisons herself, but before she dies she confesses her guilt. http://www-tech.mit.edu/V118/N66/phaedra.66a.html
    Phaedra embodies ...

    Solution Summary

    This solution assists in making comaprisons between the character of Pheadra from Jean Racine's play "Pheadra" and the character of Emma from Gustave Flaubert's novel "Madame Bovary". Sources are listed, and is also supplemented with two relevant artciles.