Научная статья на тему 'The typology of Racine’s female characters'

The typology of Racine’s female characters Текст научной статьи по специальности «Языкознание и литературоведение»

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Аннотация научной статьи по языкознанию и литературоведению, автор научной работы — Sabina Nahi-Zade, Zhu Xiao Ying

Every Racine’s woman character has both Dionysian and Apollonian beginnings, however, these beginning manifest in each of these women in different ways depending on the “proposed circumstances”, but not because they are different. There is no doubt, that there are no purely elegiac characters in the Racine’s tragedies. In fact, these are complex personalities, which always have a difficult painful internal fight.

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Текст научной работы на тему «The typology of Racine’s female characters»

Sabina Nahi-Zade Postgraduate student, School of Foreign Languages East China Normal University E-mail: vibiafull@gmail.com

Zhu Xiao Ying, Professor, East China Normal University, School of Foreign Languages Shanghai, China


Abstract: Every Racine's woman character has both Dionysian and Apollonian beginnings, however, these beginning manifest in each of these women in different ways depending on the "proposed circumstances", but not because they are different. There is no doubt, that there are no purely elegiac characters in the Racine's tragedies. In fact, these are complex personalities, which always have a difficult painful internal fight.

Keywords: Racine, female characters, the typology, classification, theatre, drama.

There is already a certain typology of Racine feeling is varied depending on the nature of the actor,

heroines. They can be divided into two opposing groups: "unhappy loved" (for example, Roxane) and "clear" character (for example, Junie, Andromache); "having a weakness" and "perfect"; "furious" and "submissive"; "vicious" and "virtuous". For example, famous Russian theorist of literature D. Oblomievsky divides Racine's characters just into the positive and negative (according to him, only "Racine's negative character is a "carrier" of disharmonious movement"), or gives a more interesting division into "abusive character, aspiring to the outside, and the repressed, oppressed character, which is engrossed in itself". Turning to the question of typology of Racine's female characters, it should be noted two successful ideas: Russian philologist, editor, literary critic, theatre and literary historian Batyushkov and French critic Pierre Robert who wrote La poétique de Racine in 1890.

F. Batyushkov although agreed with the general division of Racine's female characters into two types (positive and negative), however, he used as a basis an image of a certain feeling and studied how this

he noticed the important nuances of each character. As a result, he analyzed the sense of mother love by the example ofJocasta "Thebaid" Andromache "Andromache", Clytemnestra "Iphigenie" and Agrippina "Britannicus". At the same time, Agrippina is a negative heroine. In the same category he placed Herm-ione and Roxanne, who "partly precede Phaedra, but these characters are not completely fused".

In a long line of positive characters are Andromache, Clytemnestra, Berenice, Monima, Iphigenia, Atalida, Junia, Esther, the critic emphasized two the most outstanding characters, in his opinion: Berenice and Monima. Summarizing, Batyushkov emphasized that each of these positive type heroines, despite their inherent individual differences, has "sense of self-consciousness, the feelings ofholiness, which is above the satisfaction of selfish tendencies, and more precious than life"; for example, "Berenice sacrificed personal feelings for a loved one, Monima is ready to sacrifice her live for the integrity of the feelings".

He presented Phaedra as "extremely difficult" person, with positive and negative qualities; the

critic defined the main features of the negative type women by the example of Phaedra's positive and negative qualities. Batyushkov analyzed this character more detailed and correctly, when he found in Phaedra the image of passion, this passion is not attractive by itself, "not by spontaneous riot of impressed desires, but this passion is attractive by sufferings that are inseparable from it (...)", but at the same time "Phaedra feeds her own feelings, she defers only her personal impulse, she is kind of absorbing in her feelings a person she loves, whom she even doesn't try to understand, to love for him, not for herself". So, for Phaedra her own personality is always the center and the aim of all her actions - that statement allowed the author to classify her as the negative type of Racine's women characters.

Pierre Robert offered another classification of female characters, based on the gradation of loving feelings experienced by the heroines. Obviously, he divided female characters into groups, noting each character inherent characteristics. Junius, Aricia, Iphigenia present honest and shy love. Heroic love is shown in the characters of Atalide, Berenice and Monima. Crazy love is in the nature of Eriphile and Hermione, and sensual love is expressed in the character of Roxana. Critic classified Phaedra as an impassioned heroines as well as Hermione and Roxane. Andromache and Clytemnestra embody the love of the mother, and the feminine ambition and lust for power are the characteristics of Agrippina and Athalie. Finally, Robert pointed out that due to differences of passion Racine's female characters do not resemble each other.

In principle, these classifications can be extended, but the essence will not change. Racine is a master of "psychological reflections, which are repelled by one feeling to another", so when Racine achieve his purpose, he put in a female character, which is more stubborn and selfish in order to emphasize more tactful character. Thus, he put in this character, but does not antithesize it. All his heroines inherent pride, but not all of them have tact, by using which

they are able to think about "how their words and actions will affect other people, or disturb the general harmony, the whole equilibrium. They seem to ask themselves: "Won't I break roughly in the lives of other people, causing them unnecessary pain, which shatter their calm, as well as it will not help me, too".

Why Racine chose his heroine a woman? Perhaps because "a woman is the most successful incarnation of the most cruel threats to the habitude, even if her depression was not recognized or formulated in such a way", in other words, that a woman is able to revolt, and also, to inadequate, abnormal manifestations in behavior.

In our opinion, Racine introduced one woman, but in her various angles, he turns "to the same character, but completing it with new features in the second time, but at the same time, he is varying the characters". This is one woman "character", which we can observe in the evolution: from a young girl to an experienced woman, each of which loves in her own way, according to her age, her status and situation. For example, Phaedra's jealousy is not like the jealousy of Hermione, and Hermione's love is not the same as love of Roxanne, and the reason for this "lies rather in the difference in passion than in the difference between the natures of each of them".

The term "typology/classification" is not suitable for Racine's characters, it is simplified them. Each of Racine's female characters has Dionysian beginning; we can emphasize: every character has this beginning, even the one that seems to be the most harmonious, calm, discreet, obedient and uncomplaining. When we classifying characters, we make them "poor and pale". In fact, some heroines (for example, Hermione, Roxane, Eriphile, Agrippina) have both and Dionysian and Apollonian beginnings, which are strongly developed, but Dionysian beginning is developed a little bit stronger. For example, Hermione is the most striking example of a woman who loves passionately (as well as all of the Racine's). Her feelings are running high: the love is almost hate and vice versa. In this play, all the characters are obsessed

with a passion to the extent that they see in it only themselves, forgetting about the possibilities of the other actors. Hermione is proud; her pride borders on the selfishness. Blood boils inside her, inner fire goes to the deep end, she took a very high level in everything, this level deprive her ability even for a moment to look at herself and her situation from the outside. Her passion is so close to the madness that overshadows any other noble actions. Her love is equivalent to the death; for her unrequited love she is ready to take revenge at any cost: vengeance for her is the highest proof of love. And, for example, Berenice is capable of self-denial; she is ready to bring her love to sacrifice for the sake of the love itself. Hermione is not ready for these sacrifices. She does not have an internal need to understand, that trust the fate to the anger is careless. But sometimes she also manages to survive the insult with dignity. Indeed, "sometimes there is an insulted and arrogant fine lady in Hermione, lady of society, for which the honor, family pride play a significant role, but sometimes she again becomes miserable, suffering, offended woman. Transformation one of this woman to another is accomplished extraordinary flexible".

Both beginnings (Dionysian and Apollonian) are not so explicit in the other characters (such as Monima, Junie, Aricia), so that these characters are seemed to be harmonious. In the overall structure of the tragedy Apollonian beginning of these characters prevails, although there is also the Dionysian beginning as well, thus it is more fully organizing the psychology of the female characters. There is also non-traditional "trio": Atalida, Berenice, and Iphigenia. We can a feel a clear struggle between two beginnings in the nature of these characters, this struggle on the one hand brings them to the character of Hermione and Roxanne, on the other hand brings to the characters, which are more Apollonian as "the changing of facts in the spiritual world, their transformation, their transition into its opposite draw Racine".

The character ofAndromache, Clytemnestra and Agrippina is the image of a mother, each of these

characters is characterized by her own small nuances. Andromache is a woman-mother. Her mother's love and woman's sense of loyalty to her husband, sense of loyalty to her internal cannot reach a compromise with each other. Her dual status - a widow and a mother - has the whole duality of her nature. She has her own internal fire, which differences her from the fervor of Hermione, Eriphile, Phaedra, but also differences her from the excited tenderness of Berenice, Iphigenia, Atalida, Monima. She is characterized by certain passivity, as she is no longer a woman in love: she has already experienced her love, which now lives only inside her, for example, this is difference her from Phaedra. But at the same time it we can see her internal confusion, disorder.

This woman is noble, but for the sake of her goal she is able use a trick.

But, for example, Agrippina is not just a mother, but also a very ambitious woman. She characterized by the hidden feminine illusion, she is not just a politician, but she is as a woman intricate.

Phaedra is another side of women's psychology. Totally opposite qualities are more complete and wide concentrate in this side. Thus, differences that we usually make between "bad characters and noble characters, between violent characters and tender should not be taken as absolute", it means that each female character of Racine has in varying degree internal tensions, and the distinctions drawn between these female characters are not irresistible, indeed, it is necessary "to find a definition that is common to complaints of Roxanne, Berenice, or Hermione, and then we can get closer to an understanding of the soul of Racine", to understand the essence of his complex creativity.

Racine by his dramaturgy of female characters "reached the greatest perfection (...), assimilated its sounds to the entire gamut of human voices, from the breath of a young woman to the crying of adulthood, from the intermittent groan, which express pleasure sometimes, to hidden, almost quiet human breath chords, who fully in the prayer". As to feel

these emotions, it is necessary to put aside the strict typology of Racine's heroines in favor of diversity and complexity and sometimes unpredictability of the nature of these characters. Theater stage helps to clarify a lot of things, and the stage realizes the potency of a dramatic work.

It is necessary to pay special attention to the problem of solar symbolism, which is one of the central moments of the playwright creativity. In most of his tragedies Sun shows mental state, mood of characters. It is the embodiment of "the flame of passion, although it is still a dark flame, illuminated by black light, symbolizing forbidden, impossible or unconscious". According to the most primitive and ancient mythologies, the human soul is divided be-

tween the world of day, masculine, and the world of the night, female. Sunlight is the energy of consciousness, while the night is the secret forces of the unconsciousness. In Racine tragedies, sunny day is a symbol of consciousness, higher consciousness of God or gods, while the night is unconsciousness, where passion is born. Racine's Sun is a kind of personification of the sacred in the world and in the mental life of the characters. In other words, "solar mythology gives Racine's tragedy her metaphysical and ethical scope to the extent to which it contributes to the general disclosure of secrets and passions of the soul". For example, the "night" principle dominates in "Berenice", but in "Phaedra", there is a domination of the "solar" principle.


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