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To what extent do you agree that Phaedra and Hippolytus are in control of there own destiny in the 'Hippolytus'?

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Introduction

Matthew Belcher 13mm Word Count: 1400 To what extent do you agree that Phaedra and Hippolytus are in control of there own destiny in the 'Hippolytus'? Hippolytus is an ancient Greek tragedy written by the playwright Euripides and was first produced for the City Dionysia around 428BC. What is somewhat unusual about this play is that it is in fact the second time Euripides has covered the myth of Hippolytus in one of his tragedies with the first play (known as the Hippolytus veiled) being an earlier work of his which is now lost. Although the play is simply called the Hippolytus the play fallows the paths of both he and Phaedra, his step-mother, whose storyline takes up most of the first half of the play and whose fate has been entwined with that of Hippolytus. This 'fate' of theirs is revealed right at the beginning of the play by Aphrodite during her opening speech were it is revealed that Hippolytus, our tragic figure, must die due to his refusal to worship her and as a result of this, Phaedra must also die in order to fulfil Aphrodite's' plan for revenge on Hippolytus. This then raises the question of whether or not Hippolytus and Phaedra had any control over there own destiny during the play which, at first glance, would suggest that both there fates were constructed by Aphrodite. ...read more.

Middle

Phaedra's own feeling to protect her image and status which would be destroyed should Hippolytus reveal the secret feelings she has to Theseus. This plan that Phaedra comes up with to protect her self is important when considering whether or not Hippolytus had control over his own fate in the play. Phaedra's plan is to kill herself, something she seemed resigned on doing before hand, however this time she will leave a note to Theseus telling him that the reason she in fact killed herself was because Hippolytus, Theseus own son had raped her. This plan is a major blow to Hippolytus as it is almost impossible for him to argue against due to the nature of Theseus, who is hot headed and inclined to believe his wife without much evidence. It is because of this plan that ultimately leads to his death, no matter what Hippolytus does or how pious or righteous he is the plan will succeed due to the nature of his father and it's only when another god intervenes that he is shown the error of his ways. This also highlights the issue of how oaths are used in the play and how they effect the action. Phaedra uses an oath to bind the choruses into not telling Theseus about her feeling for Hippolytus, which they assume at the time is so that Phaedra can maintain her dignity, though as ...read more.

Conclusion

due to the fact the goddess stands for such things as desire and is associated with sex, ideals that go against his devout chastity and purity that he follows to an almost obsessive degree, which is his major character flaw. The same argument cannot be applied to Phaedra as see has seemingly done nothing wrong before the play opens and, as described in Aphrodite's speech at the beginning, see is simply a necessary casualty in order to bring about the destruction of Hippolytus which is the goddess' actually target. In conclusion I believe that the characters had control to a degree over the own destinies but ultimately there fate were contrived by the goddess Aphrodite, fates which by the end of the play came true. Hippolytus is much more in control then Phaedra, as it is he who is the goddess target due to his obsessive characteristics, characteristics which have been neither altered nor changed by the goddess. There is no evidence that Aphrodite has had neither any direct effect on Hippolytus nor any direct confrontation with the tragic figure and has instead used other people to bring about his demise. Phaedra however has much less control then Hippolytus and though it could be argued the plan was her own in order to preserve her own dignity, she is ultimately a puppet used by Aphrodite in order for the goddess to get her revenge. ...read more.

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