Viirastuse ja illusiooni vahel: Trooja Jean Racine’i traagilises dispositiivis / Between Delusion and Illusion: Troy in Jean Racine’s Tragic Dispositive

Maria Einman

Abstract


This paper explores the role of Troy in the space-time continuum of Jean Racine’s (1639-1699) two most widely known, secular tragedies „Iphigenia“ (1667) and „Andromache“ (1674). The tragic space-time continuum and its effect on the image of Troy is analysed according to the theory of operative devices. Stéphane Lojkine adapted this theory to the analysis of the space created by fictional texts. In the first section, the paper gives a brief overview of the history of the theory of operative devices and the principles and primary concepts involved, then describes the space-time of Racine’s tragedy as an operative device, which functions because the tensions created between the different zones and levels of space-time are mediated on a scopic level (i.e. the character’s viewpoints). The second section takes a closer look at how the images of the Trojan War that are created shift and change within these zones, depending on whether the events of war take place in the present or the future vis-à-vis the events of the tragedy. 

In „Andromache“, Troy has already been destroyed. One of the Greek commanders, King Pyrrhus, is driven by sentimentality and wishes to restore it „within the walls“ of his kingdom. However, in „Iphigenia“, the characters are only just making preparations for war and their main desire is to be free of the curse of the gods that has rendered the waterway leading under the walls of Troy impenetrable. The male protagonists of both tragedies wish to bring Troy into their own, present space-time continuum. The conflicts in both tragedies revolve around a character who is the „key“ to Troy: in „Andromache“, it is Astyanax, the son of Hector, the dead king of Troy, and in „Iphigenia“, it is the main character’s double, Eriphyle, the daughter of beautiful Helen and Theseus. The delusional city in „Andromache“ materializes when Pyrrhus places the crown on Andromaque’s head, thereby ensuring Astyanax’s survival. In „Iphigenia“, Eriphyle’s suicide in the last scene of the tragedy makes the illusive Troy accessible by lifting the curse and thereby opening the waterway. As the action continues, Troy moves through both space and time: it moves from the far-away, off-stage space into the on-stage space; from imaginary fiction into reality; from the past or future into the present. And, yet, death lurks within the walls of Troy and Troy demands that there be death, which makes it both dangerous and fascinating at the same time. 


Keywords


Jean Racine, Iphigenia, Andromache, Troy, tragedies, death, illusions

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7592/methis.v11i14.3691

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