Mrs. Robinson Before and After: An Existential Character Analysis of Euripides' 'Hippolytos' in Reception

Jarrid Looney

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Throughout this thesis, I will argue that the capacity of Euripides’ Hippolytos to survive is due to the exceedingly interesting characters that reside within it, and not because of a variety of moralistic lessons, which may be derived from the text through argument. The Euripidean characters of Phaidra and Hippolytos share a literary essence with each of their received counterparts, but their intertextual existences are as ever-changing as the eras in which they are rewritten. These characters, which are created by backward-glancing playwrights, have a future because of their absurdly believable situations, which may be analysed using various theoretical approaches. I have chosen the unfashionable philosophy of Existentialism for this study because Existentialism is, at its core, a comparative philosophy that pits traditional renderings of humanity (i.e. essence) against exceptional individuals who define themselves outside of the basis of said essence (i.e. existence). These characters, due to their individualized natures, are easily transferred in chronological periods. The fact that this is a tragedy concerned with humanity, sexuality, and individualization is the cause for its frequent restaging today.

In the first chapter, this thesis will begin with a survey of the academic literature that has been written on the reception tradition of this particular tragedy, and will be followed by brief overview of Existentialism and reasons for its implementation in this study. The subsequent chapters will provide a diachronic overview of a number of reimaginings of this story, which was first popularized by Euripides in 428 BCE. This thesis will examine the socio-cultural trends for each drama before analyzing the characters present in the works of Euripides, Seneca, Jean-Baptiste Racine, Mike Nichols, Brian Friel, and Sarah Kane, and will attempt better to understand how each version of Hippolytos and Phaidra are not only influenced by their antecedents, but continue to mould their successors.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Hall, Edith, Supervisor
  • Kahane, Ahuvia, Supervisor
Award date1 Jul 2014
Publication statusUnpublished - 2014

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