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The Values of Moral Enlightenment

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The Values of Moral Enlightenment My interpretation of Phaedra, established that the play played on various frenzied feelings in a variety of differing morals called love. A romantic love, between Hippolytus and Aricia. Then there is a love that by law, then and now, one of distortion, and unnatural, and tainted and incestuous love, what Phaedra had for Hippolytus, her stepson,. There then is the love that exists between family members, as it is with Hippolytus and his father, Theseus. There then is a different love that is so fierce, and so protective, I like to call, a replacement of a mother, a shielding love, as the one that Oenone, the aging nurse servant, had for Phaedra. Hippolytus confesses that he is in love with princesses Aricia, of Athens. However, King Theseus has, “decreed that she not keep alive her brothers’ seeds; Fearing some new shoots from their guilty stem…doomed her to be single all her days.” (The Norton, Pg 164) For King Theseus, believes that there is bad blood that runs through the family of Aricia. If Aricia married Hippolytus, or any other man, and had offspring then there will be a chance that bad blood would be passed on to future generations. Therefore, Hippolytus, or any man, cannot and would not go against king’s commands. I believe that true love could surmount all. Like Hippolytus and Aricia’s love for each other, their love brings modesty, truthfulness, and self-denying to each other. Even though the Hippolytus and Aricia will never glimpse, never feel, nor enjoy their love for each other, nor will their love ever bear fruit. Phaedra’s, stepmother to Hippolytus. He had no desire to have anything to do with his father’s wife. He did all he could to be out of site as well as out of mind, from hunting in the surrounding forests to anywhere there was no Phaedra was in the vicinity. Phaedra could not abide this behavior, for her desired and lusted for her stepson was growing. There was a moral law then and a moral law now, one that Phaedra would be breaking. That moral law was an immoral act, an incestuous transgression of she lust, and a tainted love. For Hippolytus had no relationship to Phaedra except through marriage. At first, Phaedra fights hard not to think and act on what she thinks is love. My belief that what she thought of as love was a graving a yearning along with forbiddances’ against society. My thoughts are that Phaedra wanted to control all the men in her life and would do anything to get what she hunted and wanted. Phaedra confesses to Hippolytus of her love, who then spurns her and her ‘supposed love for him,’ when they learned that King Theseus was reported dead. Phaedra’s tells her stepson to kill her with his sword, “Here is my heart. Your blade must pierce me there. In haste to expiate its wicked lust, my heart already leaps to meet your thrust.” (The Norton, Pg 178) To me she is trying to throw him off balance. For the word, lust in her statement is telling me that is all she is feeling. Theseus miraculous comes home to Troezen to bedlam amongst his family. Oenone comes up with a plausible account to convince King Theseus that there was something horrifying amiss. Oenone falsified a story, one that accused, Hippolytus of raping Phaedra while Theseus, was away on his adventure. Oenone confirms the story by saying to Theseus, “The Queen, remember, could not tolerate him. It was his infamous love which made her hate him.” (The Norton, Pg 188) This was meant to be taken that his son that had raped is wife.” Theseus’s anguish was so great on hearing such a description of his dearly loved son’s behavior that he called upon the gods to take his son’s life. Not knowing, that what he was asking for from the gods will perpetually alter his life. For Hippolytus’s life taken and trampled by his horses’ hooves as they raced through the forest. Oenone had what I would call replacement shield of motherly love. Oenone considered Phaedra one of her own children even though she left her natural children with others. Oenone would do anything to help and to protect her charge from any harm. Consequently, the stories told was not of maliciousness but one that would preserves the virtue of Phaedra, at all cost. As Phaedra is thinking of committing suicide, Oenone does herself in by throwing herself into the waves of the sea. It is told to the king of what Oenone has done, “Has thrown herself into the sea’s embrace. None knows what madness caused the thing she did; beneath the waves she lies forever hid.” (The Norton, Pg 198) Thus is the love an overprotective mother even a surrogated mother. One that would do anything to protect her child, even commit the ultimate sin of suicide. Consequently, Oenone’s story fabrication made Phaedra feel guilty, and gave recognition to what she had done was morally wrong. As a result, she committed the definitive sin, suicide by slowly poisoning taken, before telling her husband the truth of what actually happened. However, it is regretful that the truth revealed, after Hippolytus’s ill-timed death, that he was guiltless of any wrong doings. At the end of the Racine’s play the last statement from King Theseus was, “To his great worth all honor shall be paid, and, further to appease his angry shade, Aricia, despite her brothers’ offense, shall be my daughter from this moment hence.” (The Norton, Pg 200) For a father could not give his son any more love on the physical plane, he could however, and did show a family love towards his son’s beloved Aricia. Thus, there is a moral to the play. Be careful what one wishes for, it might come become factual with unwanted consequences.…...

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