In Euripides’ “Phaedra,” revenge plays a significant role in the tragic events that unfold. The play explores the themes of passion, revenge, and the destructive consequences of both. In this essay, I will discuss how “Phaedra” can be seen as a revenge tragedy.
The character of Phaedra seeks revenge against Hippolytus, her stepson, for his rejection of her romantic advances. She accuses him of attempting to rape her, even though it is a false accusation. This lie leads to the tragic death of Hippolytus, who is killed by his own father, Theseus, as a result of his belief in Phaedra’s false accusation.
Phaedra’s desire for revenge is fueled by her passion and unrequited love for Hippolytus. She is consumed by her desire for him, and his rejection of her causes her to lash out in anger and frustration. She sees the false accusation as a way to get back at him for his rejection and to satisfy her desire for revenge.
The consequences of Phaedra’s revenge are tragic. Hippolytus, who is innocent of the crime he is accused of, suffers a terrible fate. He is killed by his own father, who is unable to see past the false accusation and who believes that he is protecting his wife’s honor. The tragedy of the play lies in the fact that the characters are unable to control their passions and desires, and their actions lead to devastating consequences.
The play also explores the societal norms and expectations surrounding revenge. In ancient Greece, revenge was considered a natural and acceptable response to perceived slights or insults. Phaedra’s desire for revenge against Hippolytus is seen as a natural response to his rejection of her. However, the consequences of her revenge are severe, and the play serves as a warning against the destructive power of revenge.
The character of Theseus also seeks revenge against Hippolytus, although his desire for revenge is based on a false accusation. He believes that his son has dishonored his wife and seeks to punish him for his perceived crime. His desire for revenge blinds him to the truth and leads to the tragic death of his son.
The play also explores the concept of fate and how it can influence the characters’ actions. The tragic events of the play seem to be predestined, as the characters are unable to escape their fate. Phaedra’s desire for revenge and Hippolytus’s rejection of her are predetermined, and the tragic consequences of their actions are inevitable.
In conclusion, “Phaedra” can be seen as a revenge tragedy that explores the destructive power of revenge and the tragic consequences that can arise from it. The play emphasizes the importance of controlling one’s passions and desires and the danger of letting them consume one’s actions. It also highlights the societal norms and expectations surrounding revenge and the consequences of violating these norms. Overall, “Phaedra” serves as a warning about the dangers of revenge and the tragic consequences that can result from it.