A study of the theme of persecution and the relationships between victims and aggressors in four tragedies by Jean Racine: Andromaque, Britannicus Bajazet and Phedre.
Dhoro, Kudakwashe G.
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Human violence has generated a lot of discussion and led to so many attempts, both scientific and philosophical, to understand its prevalence. Why do human beings inflict voluntary suffering or death to others? This is the eternal problem of evil. From the simple assault case to premeditated murder, genocide aimed at the eradication of a well-defined community, violence is both repugnant and fascinating because we can never get used to it. It is never really the same and always displays a new facet that is constantly surprising and unusual. The focus of this thesis is a study of violence and persecution in the theatre of Racine, where they are central themes, and to analyse them in the light of Emmanuel Levinas’s ethical philosophy. Three main questions that are presented as the three chapters that make up this thesis. Firstly, what informed the presentation of violence in Racine’s plays and what is the link between passion and persecution? Secondly, how is aggression and persecution worked out through the characters depicted in the plays? And finally, what is the role played by language in revealing and promoting aggression and persecution? This thesis is particularly concerned with what makes the Racinian character violent and why he or she so often experiences a passion that for the most part is impossible to satisfy. The thesis attempts to answer these questions with reference to the following tragedies by Racine: Andromaque, Britannicus, Bajazet and Phèdre., and it will show how the abandoning of ethical relationships by the characters leads to persecution and aggression, which is carried out in physical, psychological, verbal and non-verbal forms.