Athens, Patriarchal Societies, and Phaedra and Clytaemnestra Upon first examination, it would seem that the two female characters of Greek drama Phaedra and Clytaemnestra are far removed from one another. Phaedra is seemingly a love-struck character that embodies pathos and a pathetic nature while Clytaemnestra has a cold and calculative nature to her. However, both characters are at the whim of the patriarchal Athenian society which makes these two seemingly diverse characters closer in design than most would initially assume.
With both characters, it is relationships with men that are seemingly at the root of perceived character flaws. In Greek society, "Unless extreme poverty compelled them to work, citizen women rarely ventured from the house...In this way they could avoid encounters with strange men who were not their relatives and might compromise their respectability." (Pomeroy) Within the plays, it would seem thematic issues of a woman’s downfall will commonly be connected to a relationship with a man.
In HIPPOLYTUS, Phaedra is not presented in the most flattering of lights. She is presented as a lovesick and somewhat “lust sick” character that has an unnatural love for Hippolytus. This ultimately leads to her downfall but not until after she is presented as an unstable character that lacks the ability to control her own emotions. In many ways, she is also a very reactive character that only can act in relation to how other characters treat her.
For example, she is at the complete whim of the manipulative Aphrodite and she seemingly only exists to please Hippolytus despite the fact that his feelings for her seem nonexistent. Despite the facts that her actions are more harmful to the self (Blind loving devotion to someone that does not love you back is not helpful), the character of Phaedra seemingly continues on a very dangerous path towards self-destruction. The greater significance here is that Phaedra remains a female character in a very...
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