, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 245–260 | Cite as

Andromaque de Racine, vraie fausse héroïne tragique ?

  • Stéphane Natan


This article revisits Racine’s Andromaque by positing that critics have wrongly portrayed the eponymous main character. They have depicted her as a flawless and defenseless woman with no ambition who struggles in a pathetic situation until the final coup de théâtre, in which her status unexpectedly rises from that of slave to that of queen. It is the purpose of this essay to demonstrate rather that Andromaque fits Aristotle’s definition of the tragic hero, that is, one perceived as both imperfect and somehow guilty of his situation. In fact, Andromaque is in motion to accomplish her duty: saving the future of Troy. To succeed, she does not hesitate to resort to trickery, to be merciless, and to disregard the concept of honor. That said, her share of responsibility for the tragedy appears in her refusal to forget the horrifying fall of Troy and in her willingness to keep the past alive, visualizing again and again the violence of the Greeks against her people. In so doing, she refuses to grant forgiveness to Pyrrhus and to exit the cycle of revenge. Caught in an impossible dilemma—saving her son by wedding her worst enemy or being faithful to the memory of her dead husband and Troy—she reaches the ultimate tragic “moment” when she finally accepts her tarnished reputation of fidelity by quietly agreeing to be perceived as the faithful widow of Pyrrhus at the end of the play. Successful on the political front, she has to sacrifice her inner self, her identity as the faithful widow of Hector, thus becoming a truly tragic heroine.


Racine Andromaque Tragic Aristotle Honor Dilemma Cycle of revenge 


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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fine Arts 366Rider UniversityLawrencevilleUSA

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