La Bruyère entre Corneille et Racine - Persée
This will be linked to the Levinassian concepts of on le dit and le dire. Racine and seventeenth-century classical aesthetics The main objective of this section is to trace the developments in the moral ideals of the seventeenth century in order to present the reader with a clearer understanding of the ideals that influenced Racine. Racine wrote the following plays: Racine was primarily a tragic dramatist, whose plays consist, in his own words, of: According to Jean Rohou: Emelina, Racine Infiniment Paris: Sedes, , p.
In it he stated his poetic doctrine and analysed contemporary poetry. His starting point is the imitation of nature: This leads to the following question: PUR, , p. His use of the three unities can be interpreted as follows: In English, this can be rendered as: In it, he outlined the degree to which the French classical school was allowed to modify and improve on the rules of tragedy.
Arthaud, , pp. This leads us to the question of the hero assuming responsibility for their persecution. This will enable us to better understand what informed the presentation and depiction of aggression and persecution in his plays, because we believe that there is a link between the portrayal of violence in the plays and the ability of the audience to understand the background to that violence. We do not seek to present a detailed historical and sociological account of the seventeenth century, but an overview that allows us to understand the nature of Racinian characters.
C Potts and D. Passion is a manifestation of personal energy and exigence of personal development and the pursuit of glory is motivated by irrational drives which, as contemporary moralists recognised, go beyond the norms of religion. Pascal, like the Jansenists, denounced the dominance of amour-propre because it indirectly implied the absence of Amour de Dieu. On the one hand, the defeat of the aristocracy led to the undermining of the concept of gloire, but the centrality of the heart, the passions and particularly a pessimistic view of these came about for other, related reasons.
The King, having made the first moves in establishing an absolute monarchy, tolerated no political or religious opposition to his authority. Politics and religion could not therefore be discussed, and writers turned instead to matters of the heart. For Zuber and Cuenin, the originality of Andromaque did not lie in the domination of love, but in: Kessinger Publishing, LLC, , p.
A theatre of cruelty20 Set down in a violent and incoherent world, the tragic heroes endeavour to deal with their situation in the best way they can, struggling to create some order out of chaos and to make some sense of the world. The heroes are forced to adapt to this reality, becoming unwilling actors in their own personal tragedy, constantly finding themselves in a state of crisis where individual autonomy is limited. Editions Gallimard, 21 This can also be related to the seventeenth-century historical context.
If the characters could not successfully liberate themselves from royal control, their personal dramas could nevertheless show how much they longed to be released from the authority of another. Gallimard, , p. Nijhoff, , p. These relationships are rendered even more complex by the ambiguous and unpredictable nature of the characters.
This is how Racine illustrates the fate of characters who possess essentially human characteristics which we see through mimesis. The characters are tormented by the ambiguity of their feelings, the weight of heredity and history, ungovernable passions and the omnipresence of violence. A further analysis of the theme of passion will allow us to better understand the causes of persecution and aggression in Racinian theatre.
PUF, , p.
La Bruyère entre Corneille et Racine
In his plays, ambition is seen as a monstrous force and love assumes inhuman attributes as it demands all or sacrifices all. The major passions found in Racinian drama that are of interest to this study are ambition, hatred, love and jealousy. Passion transcends the ephemeral, the ordinary and acquires an identity and personality of its own. The afflicted character loses his bearing, his individuality and his will is neutralised and his psyche is taken over.
Racinian passion becomes primitive when it leads the character to violence persecution and aggression and irrational behaviour. La Rochefoucauld could have been thinking of the Racinian passionate character when he wrote: Desire and responsibility are awakened not by spontaneity or knowledge internal to the subject, but by the face of the other, which includes Infinity and an interiority that overflows all comprehension, and which summons me to a responsible ethical relationship.
In Totality and Infinity, Levinas explains the role played by desire in shaping the human ethical relationship: Aupelf, , p. It distinguishes the material from the spiritual, opens to Desire. Levinas asserts that though they may lead to predatory acts and evil consequences, human passions, natural drives and instincts are not evil in themselves. The aggressor goes through a process of transformation which often ends in alienation from his object of desire when he, dominated by his passion, fights for the attention of the person that aroused it, namely his victim, aggression often becomes the end result.
The passion that overwhelms Racinian protagonists triggers a series of events which ultimately culminate in the tragic death of either the victim or the aggressor. The language of passion farouche, tourment, fureur, rage, courroux used by the characters is essentially intense and reveals the element of violence that is brought about as a result of an unfulfilled passion. She is the only one who has fully understood the effects of persecution and aggression on those who perpetrate them. Roxane insists that Bajazet and Atalide must be held responsible for her own passions despite themselves and they are persecuted through her obsessive passion and this is her way of transferring her obsession and guilt to the Other, Jean-Claude Tournard asserts that: These lies are, however, powerless in the face of the persecuting passion of Roxane; according to Zuber: Dunod, , p.
This shows the sadistic pleasure and natural cruelty brought about as a result of passion; she is even prepared to fight to the death with any weapon: We will now turn to an analysis of the effects of passion in Andromaque. Andromaque presents three distinct and conflicting interests based on passion. Andromaque can only save her son from being delivered to the vindictive Greeks by becoming the wife of her tyrant but a deep-seated reverence for the memory of Hector finds itself in conflict with the impulses of maternal affection, and finally, with a determination not to survive the marriage ceremony, she consents to the sacrifice required of her.
The extent of her madness, her vacillations between love and hatred can be seen in the following lines: Je ne te retiens plus, sauve-toi de ces lieux: She is ashamed of her behaviour because it lacks nobility, but she can do nothing about it and her confusion is seen in: All that she was made to suffer and accept for love is seen in the following: The gods become her allies because she is convinced that she is justified in her anger: This tirade shows the extent to which the princess is prepared to go in the name of love, fuelled by jealousy and hatred and the risk that Pyrrhus is prepared to take he is prepared to forget his duty and face possible death for the love of a slave.
It also plays an important role in defining the qualities of the Racinian character what they are internally and the following postulations by Levinas can be applied to these participants in drama, both victims and aggressors: And, in a sense, this is also what we always are — unjust, inadequately caring and attentive, out of control. Having set the scene for the creation of Racinian tragedy, in the next chapter, we shall proceed to a detailed analysis of the incidence of aggression and the factors that influence the relationships between victims and aggressors in his tragedy.
The University Press, , p. Factors influencing the relationships between victims and aggressors The action of a play is dependent on the nature of the characters who are portrayed there, who act as vectors of discourse and emotions. They are the intermediaries between the audience and the writer and it is through them that the plot develops and their actions or lack of bring tension to the intrigue. The characters assume an identity of their own, they have a past, they have feelings and emotions and they belong to a particular social group.
Through mimesis,1 they are no longer anonymous fictional beings; they become an incarnation of our own humanity. According to Alain Niderst: Racine successfully integrated the principles of mimesis and vraisemblance in his drama since he not only used them to enhance his plot structure, but also to develop the characters 1 According to the OED, mimesis is: The best-known modern scholar on the study of mimesis is Erich Auerbach and his Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature where mimesis is understood as an attempt to represent reality representational mimesis , art is seen as representing reality or giving reality a new presentation.
Mont, , p. This is an illustration of Racine as a portrait artist, capable of painting the complexity of human beings and showing their struggle for autonomy in the face of passion. Racinian characters are tragic actors in spite of themselves, they are constantly threatened by others who seek to persecute them and see them perish. The previous chapter analysed passion and its link to aggression and persecution. Passion destabilises the individual and confers upon him the dual status of both martyr and torturer. This unnaturalness is the result of the interaction of various determining factors, which include psychological elements, the power relationship, passion, and finally, the tensions which arise from ineffective communication.
According to Phillips, the essence of speech is: At no time in his Poetics does he forbid the writer to draw upon the customs of his time but he gives prominence to vraisemblance in dramatic mimesis: Columbia University Press, , pp. The drama ensues from a situation where different sets of characters envisage different conclusions and, in general terms, tragedy arises from the conflict of those conclusions. Pourtant, cette interaction entre les hommes ne se contente pas du simple respect de principes moraux.
The Racinian characters are unwilling to establish such ethical relationships; they are constantly planning to persecute others, as we see in the following example from Bajazet: Language and Theatre, Durham: University of Durham, , p. UTB, , p. Order is inextricably entwined with reason, moderation and self-control, aggression and persecution therefore become transgressions of the laws of reason.
Order is embodied in the patriarch or the law-giver, who is often the father, the priest, the king or God. The absence of the father figure or immoderate behaviour on the part of the patriarch throws the family structure and by extension, the kingdom, into disarray.
The articulation of that defiance is punished with violence death. We will now analyse the incidence of persecution and aggression as a result of disorder within the family unit. This is because the destinies of his characters are interlinked to the extent that the actions of one individual always have repercussions on the fate of others. Most importantly, the relationships of aggression and persecution are often established between characters that belong to the same caste or lineage, making the stage a privileged place where close family members destroy each other.
This shows the futility of proximity, which does not distract them from acts of violence and it even accentuates and amplifies the consequences of aggression. According to Ingrid Heyndels, violence within the family unit is a typical Racinian leitmotiv: Act 1, scene 1 of Britannicus is typical of what can be considered as an art de commencer which seeks to combine information, verisimilitude and action. Il vous doit son amour. There are no fewer than eight question marks in the fifteen lines spoken by Albine in this scene.
Heyndels, Le conflit racinien Bruxelles: This disorder in the family brought about as a result of heredity is concretised by acts of violence persecution and aggression. This can also be seen as the past exerting a persecuting influence on the present due to the fact that offspring do not chose their ancestors and their passions. This means that the offspring tend to have the same obsessions and violent inclinations as their ancestors. This leitmotiv is developed in all the plays under analysis to a lesser extent in Bajazet which is set in Turkey, which, in the language of late seventeenth century France, is associated with a mixture of cruelty and sensuality.
The Atrides are targets of celestial vengeance, whose origin can be traced back to the sun le Soleil when he discovered the illegitimate love between Venus and Mars. The combination of both these factors helps amplify the importance of heredity in the persecution-aggression cycle, according to Niderst: On the other, she is the daughter of Minos, a direct descendant of Jupiter. In Bajazet, the same pattern is observed. The Sultan himself plans to have Bajazet killed in order to protect his power and eliminate any threats to that power.
In this universe, aggression and persecution are the end result of a vicious cycle which has the following pattern: This vicious cycle is used by Racine to structure and encourage the tensions and conflicts that are seen in all the plays under analysis and passion is seen as a catalyst in this vicious cycle where the character afflicted by passion resorts to violence and deception.
A-G Nizet, , p. Moreover, even if the love is not reciprocal, it is seen as a betrayal at the time of refusal, and precipitates revenge. Death is omnipresent and, as it hovers above the characters, it is the logical consequence of destructive passion and everyone pays the ultimate price of their alienation.
The same sequence of events is seen in Andromaque where the characters are constantly faced with the frustrations of the Other and conflict arises from the incompatibility of these frustrations. Picard summarises this chain of frustrations as follows: Passion and the subsequent persecution that results from frustrated desires and immoderate behaviour destroy family values and the family unit itself, leading to incest, infanticide and fratricide.
The affected character abandons all values and respect for others, substituting behaviour dictated to him by the passions for moderation and good judgment. Reason is seen to be defeated by the heart and conscience makes way for unrelenting evil. Aggression and persecution are brought about as a result of a refusal by the character to respect basic human 12 R.
Monsters of Racinian tragedy This section seeks to study the concept of the monster and its links to aggression and persecution in Racinian drama. Phillip Cole claims in The Myth of Evil, that the concept of evil divides normal people from inhuman, demonic and monstrous wrongdoers, who can be considered as different from ordinary people. According to Williams, the term monstrueux as applied in the seventeenth century usually referred to hidden intentions and unspoken desires or unspeakable desires as we will see in Racinian drama , which can be interpreted as excessive passions.
We consider these excessive passions as the meanings assigned to the creature by the writer, a creature that modifies the behaviour and character of the individual into another, whose main concern becomes the fulfilment of the passion. The monster becomes an agent of alienation, alienating the character from what can be considered their normal self.
This becomes a manifestation of the corruption of the human moral form and being, which becomes a persecution in itself and leads to aggressive behaviour towards others. This monster is essentially fluid in nature because, in spite of its otherness, it cannot be separated entirely from the nature of the character himself. The monstrous is not thereby the absolute other, but rather a mirror of humanity: Cole, The Myth of Evil Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, OUP, , p. Margrit, Embodying the Monster: Encounters with the Vulnerable Self London: SAGE Publications, , p.
This condition is necessary for persecution and aggression to occur in Racinian drama. She is far worse than this real monster who finishes him off, after she had already accomplished the act through her actions: Incestuous passion and hidden intentions haunt the character for us, this haunting is the equivalent of a persecution. Et je suis un monstre furieux! These extracts show us the extremes to which the characters resort under the influence of the persecuting presence of a passion.
To justify their violence towards the victims, they have to dehumanise them first and the repetition of the term monster is evidence of this dehumanisation. It is found throughout the text. The term actually refers to more than the ordinary understanding of the term. Racine refers to both moral and physical monsters and both are related to each other. Uncontrolled passion of various kinds is a monster that constantly threatens disorder in the play.
The question that Racine asks is essentially an eternal question still being asked today: What is the nature of these monsters or what is the nature of the evil that permeates the play? This demand is articulated in the language of sexual desire: Here, she transfers the monstrosity from herself to Hippolyte, from the one who suffers and is persecuted by the lust to the one who has inspired it. Levinas shows in Otherwise than Being that the concept of substitution is the key to his understanding of the ethical relation between the self and the Other. The slayer of monsters now sees his son as one: In the final scenes of the play we see Hippolyte acting in imitation of his father, the slayer of monsters, destroying the monster sent by Neptune before it destroys him: Suis-je leur empereur seulement pour leur plaire?
The evil monster is being born before our eyes. The tragedy is based on terror and pity: This monster informs us about what human beings are capable of violence and incapable of distinguishing and choosing good from bad and this is seen as being due to the following reasons, heredity, passion, education and predestination.
Desirous of becoming and being acknowledged as an adult, he tries to overcome his moral and material addiction to the adults who have hitherto ruled his life. He wants to make his own decisions; yet making decisions implies making a choice between the heart and reason, between order and tradition, between continuity and the present. He embodies the emerging monster that will destroy all those who are seen as impediments to the fulfilment of his passions love and ambition.
We will now focus our attention on the study of power as a vehicle that facilitates aggression in Racinian drama. Power and its links to persecution and aggression For the purposes of this study, our definition of the classical Racinian victim centres on the power balance, the victims being those who are under the physical control of both others and an intense passion, but who are also capable of inflicting pain and suffering on their aggressors. Power is used as a tool of aggression by the aggressors who are aware of the ultimate power they possess, the power of life and death that they have over their captives.
The Sovereign is the figurehead of this pyramid. He has absolute power which, as in the case of an absolute monarchy, is not shared. In our corpus, the Sovereign is closer to the despot, fickle and frivolous, than the virtuous and just monarch, as represented in the dramas of Corneille. The passion of Pyrrhus is built on ultimatums; his love for Andromaque cannot really express itself without resorting to verbal threats: Passion and fury then become closely connected to the exercise of power, and according to Gilles Revaz: Ainsi ces discours sont faux, et tyranniques: He rids himself of Agrippine because he does not want to continue being beholden to her, despite the fact that she is his mother and therefore owed his love and loyalty, which he has come to see as an intolerable burden.
Other persons are encountered, but only as objects, subject to my power and freedom. The other is something to be dominated, possessed or discarded; to be incorporated, surmounted, and enveloped by my world […] or to be wiped out. Here freedom is arbitrary and unjustified, and beneath it lurks a self that is murderous and violent. Roxane is a slave herself but has been given the power of life and death over Bajazet, which is an exercise of ultimate power. She sees love as an extension of the master-slave relationship: Bajazet does not have much choice faced with Roxane who considers his heart as her due: According to Lapp, the effect of this is to place emphasis on the paradox of power and enslavement.
He observes that the words esclave, esclavage, puissance and pouvoir occur frequently in the play: Some basic philosophical similarities and psychological implications. Roxane is aware of the superior power of love and the futility of her hopes, but because she is a prisoner-of-love, she cannot break free.
She is equally aware of the impossibility of her position and of the fact that despite her power and the criminal nature of her love, she must continue to love Bajazet who encourages her passion until he cannot bring himself to continue feigning affection for her, thereby putting his life in jeopardy.
This is a transposition of the person without power to the position of being able to influence those with power until he reaches the realisation that he cannot continue living like that. Spencer shows that power brings misery to both those who possess it and those who are its victims, for her: If Bajazet refuses, he will loose his life.
De Mourgues then concludes that: Shut within the complex and yet narrow circle of his passion, the Racinian character is completely blind to all the rest. This is why even the characters who appear most 29 harmless can inflict the most refined tortures on others. We will now turn to an analysis of the dynamics of the power relationships in Andromaque. As we have already established, the passion of love takes precedence over all obligations either to the nation or to personal honour, and the aggressors become prisoners-of- love.
Since love is an absolute value, and since the character is unwilling to compromise, anything that stands in the way of the realisation of passion has to be destroyed through the abuse of power. University of Toronto Press, , p. Biblio 17, , p. It is for this reason that Pyrrhus tries to blackmail Andromaque: Although Pyhrrus is in love, he can no longer afford to wait; this is evident in the semantic field of suffering: This idea of blackmail is also taken up in Bajazet as: Then later on we find: He is all too aware of his condition and the retribution he suffers through love.
This constitutes the reversal of the power balance in Andromaque. This is another illustration of the vainqueur vaincu theme that we demonstrated in our analysis of Bajazet. Pyrrhus passionately loves Andromaque, but this love is made impossible by the presence of Hermione whom the former has to betray. In this conversation, Pyrrhus tries to convince Andromaque to do as he wishes, but she is reluctant and he then proceeds to tell her that if she remains faithful to her past, the child will die a demonstration of his authoritarian power.
He is violent and impulsive and his love- passion is so strong that it can go from one extreme to another: As we have shown before, the threat of violence is never far from the lips of the aggressor, who constantly reminds his victim of the extent of his power and the consequences of refusing to acquiesce to his demands.
The mechanics of the power balance Roland Barthes, in Sur Racine, subdivides the Racinian world into: This classification, as far as Barthes is concerned, is essentially based on the power balance. Barthes explains that the typical Racinian conflict is further developed into a conflict of space.
We will now analyse the mechanics of the power balance in Britannicus and demonstrate how that contributes to aggression. She still lives in her past glory and is even prepared to fight against her own son in order to recover her lost power; it can be said that power is for her a passion that controls her actions and thoughts, as we see in: According to Levinas, fear for the Other asks: Agrippine is monstrously ambitious and this is what constitutes the axis of the play, the struggle between mother and son, two equally ambitious protagonists, fighting to control tyrannical power, recognisable through the fear it instils in the subjects: Without this power, she considers herself to be of no worth: In his study on the relationship between language and power, Van Delft contends that: Editions du Seuil, , p.
Basil Blackwell, , p. Her fall will be complete when she can use only words. So he avoids physical contact with her by putting in place his own barriers between them. For almost three acts, Agrippine is forced to demand that she be permitted to see her son. In Britannicus, this shift in the power balance comes about because of the complicated nature of love and the notion of le pouvoir impuissant.
Britannicus on the other hand has feelings of affection for Agrippine, who has always tried to protect him and to encourage his love for Junie. Britannicus then acquires some power which, according to Narcisse, would have been politically dangerous to Agrippine. This section has attempted to show that power is not a static theme in Racinian tragedy, but a very dynamic one; owing to its tyrannical nature, those who have it abuse it, through the 32 L.
However, there are instances of a shift in the power balance, and this is mainly brought about as a result of love-passion. As discussed in the first part of this chapter, mimesis helped the dramatist create a theatrical illusion from historic events. In Racinian drama, the setting or the place le lieu is a dark labyrinth where danger is omnipresent.
It is dangerous to venture within this labyrinth because we do not know what monster may come out. This chambre is seldom represented on stage, but is nonetheless psychologically present.
Barthes, Sur Racine, op. These elements combine to create an enclosed and suffocating universe. This is how the lieu participates in the action, creating a prison-like environment from which escape is impossible and the prison becomes a trap when the characters try to escape. We can even conclude that his death was the price to pay for this transgression. This is evident in all the tragedies under consideration, consequently leading us to conclude that the setting of the plays is also capable of creating a space for the physical and psychological persecution of the characters both victims and aggressors.
In Bajazet, the seraglio is a prison for Bajazet, Atalide and Roxane herself.
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Opposed to the theme of the prison is the theme of freedom. Do the characters have the freedom to run away from love? In addition to the fact that it is physically impossible for the victims to escape the palace or the seraglio in the case of Bajazet, it is equally impossible for the aggressors themselves to escape because the place in which the action takes place is intricately linked to the birth of the passion that drives them.
Goodkin interprets this as follows: It would mean, in effect, giving him the chance to survive on his own […]. Racinian characters are on a quest that is both physical and psychological for freedom to love, freedom to rule, freedom from the tyrant but this quest is fraught with obstacles, and the wall and barrier imagery which abounds in the plays effectively communicates the source of frustration and persecution that the characters experience. As a result of the link between space and passion, we see that Racine does not often give his characters the choice to escape the dangerous presence of the object of their desire.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 40 ibid. The feeling of aggression and persecution is heightened by the knowledge that evil is invisible and the act of aggression itself is often carried out under some sort of disguise, as illustrated by Burrhus: The act itself is in keeping with his penchant for misleading his victims into thinking that they are safe, as he famously declares: Lapp interprets this antithesis as an illustration of the interplay between appearance and reality, leading him to conclude that Britannicus is a drama of watcher and watched.
In this section, we have attempted to show the importance of space as a conditioning element of Racinian socialisation. The characters are thrust into a confined space where they have to defend their interests and affirm themselves through the expression of their passions and the exercise of their power.
In Levinassian thought, violence in a society arises when the ethical relation which consists in placing the Other above me is forgotten and it is no longer the foundation of the social relation. Levinas points out that: Levinas, Totality and Infinity, op. We will now propose a close reading of Britannicus and Bajazet as representing the techniques of aggression that are found in Racinian drama. Techniques of aggression in Britannicus The first two acts of Britannicus examine the evolution of the relationship between victims and aggressors.
She steadfastly refuses his advances and is one of the characters in Britannicus who is true to herself and who maintains her loyalty to the historical lineage from which she is supposedly descended: By having her kidnapped, he has taken away her physical freedom and then he orders her to forget about Britannicus: As far as he is concerned, other people his victims are pawns on his chessboard and he wants to control them and make them fulfil his devilish wishes.
In enjoyment I am absolutely for myself. Egoist without reference to the Other, I am alone without solitude, innocently egoist and alone. His two passions love and ambition are the sources of his hunger, they have to be satisfied at all costs, all obstacles have to be eliminated. Therefore, the aggressor is without ears, he is deaf to all Others. His other technique of aggression is to give Britannicus the impression that Junie has turned against him. His is a subtle form of cruelty involving not physical pain but 45 ibid.
Consequently, it is perfectly natural for him to show his sadism: The victims have to live in constant fear, and consequently, they cannot enjoy total freedom, as Junie herself informs Britannicus: The element of omnipresence becomes an important element of aggression because the victims are not only persecuted by his presence, aggression and persecution still occur even when the tyrant is absent.
As we mentioned earlier, the same applies to Bajazet where Amurat is the absent but omnipresent aggressor. This is also in keeping with the tradition of tragedy representing man faced with a force that he is powerless to overcome. The second act is sending Pallas into exile. Her power and position are her reason for being as we have 46 L. He has to choose between being loved and being feared, between Good and Evil; he chooses fear and evil. The tyrant knows this and he makes sure that an atmosphere of fear reigns in Rome and at his court; this is his oppressive view of kingship.
This is exactly what he does to Britannicus: He knows that he has no intention of doing all this or seeing all this happen but his aim is to give his victims a false sense of security, only to strike them when they least expect it, showing the world his disregard for the fear for the Other. The Racinian community is an example of such a violent community. Techniques of aggression in Bajazet We now propose to move on to an analysis of the techniques of aggression and the relationships between victims and aggressors in Bajazet. Roxane has absolute power, delegated to her by the Sultan and Barthes points out that she is herself the subject and object of absolute power.
From the beginning of the play we learn that the sultan is cruel and is not afraid to kill his own brother: We also learn that Acomat himself is a victim of the sultan: Il a fait plus pour elle, Osmin: Tu sais de nos sultans les rigueurs ordinaires: In Bajazet we find the omnipresence of violence and aggression, as much in the form of atmosphere as action. This is due in part to the fact that the Classical unities do not allow any actual violence on stage, therefore all the aggression and violence are in menacing words and looks and the threat of violence.
La Bruyère entre Corneille et Racine
We have already pointed out that the Seraglio itself can be taken as an aggressor or facilitator of aggression; Racine himself asks in his preface to Bajazet: In this case, aggression arises because all the women in the Seraglio want to please and consequently gain the love and favour of their lord and though this is not said falling out of favour can mean banishment or, at worst, death.
The Seraglio becomes a conditioning element, that is to say it provides a fertile environment for aggression to breed. We will now turn to an analysis of the role played by bloodline and sibling rivalry in Bajazet. Aggression and persecution in the play are closely linked to inheritance and sibling rivalry. This sense of enterprise can be considered as one of the reasons why Amurat persecutes his younger brother. She loves him, but the question she needs answered is whether he wants to marry her.
She uses her new-found power to persecute him for not returning her love: These lines illustrate the intricate link between love and freedom, power and persecution, Roxane does not hesitate to use her power and her passion to menace Bajazet into submission. These words illustrate her conception of love, which should be backed by tyrannical power 50 According to Dewald: They rarely allow their brothers long to enjoy the dangerous honor of descending from blood that places them too close to the throne.
In the tragedies, family members long violently for the same objects, sexual as well as material. The tragedies teach that proper family life demands renunciation of such desire, ultimately under the threat of parental violence. Parents sacrifice their children, heirs their younger siblings. University of California Press, , p. This resistance makes her desire him even more and she threatens to use more severe forms of aggression.
Such is the nature of violence and the exercise of power in Bajazet. This unnaturalness 51 P. Central to this is the theme of love- passion, which, as has been defined before, is a negative emotion which obliterates all other feelings and coupled with power, brings about aggressive behaviour in the individual concerned. This power is not monopolised by any one character in the plays; it is very dynamic and can shift from victim to aggressor.
We also underscored that authoritarian attitudes show inequality in viewing human relationships, submissiveness toward individuals possessing higher status, and domineering propensities toward lower status individuals. When the components of Racinian authoritarianism are analysed, authoritarian aggression and authoritarian submission are generally accepted as being relevant in the understanding of the authoritarian personality and how that promotes violence. The victims are irredeemably on trial, with death being their only escape.
Elements such as space, family ties, order and disorder are creatively used to promote and sustain violence in the plays. We may conclude from our discussion above that Racinian tragedy consists essentially of the tension between the victim and aggressor, weakness and power, steadfast honour and abuse of authority by those who have it. Such ceremony is viewed as a poetic meditation on conflicts between individuals and their failure to integrate fully into the social sphere.
Since drama is maintained by verbal exchanges and the discourse of the characters, we suggest that the victim-aggressor relationship and the consequent power balance are dependent on the effectiveness or failure of this discourse. In this chapter, we will analyse the linguistic strategies used by the aggressors to persecute others and the expression of suffering through language by both the victims and aggressors. According to Emmanuel Levinas: In this society, we are obligated to respond to each other. What obligates us is the fact that the Other sees the world from a different perspective.
To the point that I take it on, I am uprooted from my perspective, my consciousness is centred on my point of view. At the same time discourse becomes the object of struggle and control because of its capacity to empower the individual. Conflict therefore arises as a need to control discourse, which becomes a source of authority. The conflictual nature of the relationship between the self and the Other means that language becomes disordered and abused.
This is how characters in Racinian tragedy seek to manipulate language in order to discover and control both the thoughts and actions of others through what Mary Reilly terms linguistic engineering. Man can give himself in saying to the point of poetry - or he can withdraw into the non- saying of lies. Language as saying is an ethical openness to the other; as that which is said - reduced to a fixed identity or synchronised presence - it is an ontological closure of the other. Levinas makes a distinction between le dire, the act of saying, from le dit, the actual content of what is said.
In analysing this concept, Edgoose asserts that: Levinas suggests that this tidy visual world is not the whole story. In the to-and-fro of conversation, he writes, closure is ever evasive. The ambiguity of language fails to satisfy the desires of speaker and listener for stable agreed meaning and mutual recognition. The content of speech - the Said Dit - strives for universality and solidity. Yet, in the failure of that striving, the Saying Dire is revealed - conversations continue and are not discreet exchanges of information.
Language, Violence and Power Bern: Peter Lang AG, Linguistic engineering is essentially the careful manipulation of the word by characters to discover, channel and control the thought and actions of others. To illustrate this, we will use the following quotation from Reilly: In every political party we find the formidable spin doctors who excel at concealing the real meaning of words in trite phrases.
Calculatively manipulating language to mould the opinions of others remains the means to power. MUP, 5 J. Edgoose, An ethics of hesitant learning: Levinas sees language as a vehicle that allows us to respond and call out to the Other, to do good or bad and much else. Levinas calls this the saying; it is the ethical matrix in which language as communication takes place. Without it, there would be no ultimate reason to have language or languages and no point in their employment.
He explains that the Saying is the activity through which we put linguistic meanings into circulation by speaking, gesturing, making faces, having silent thoughts, and most relevant to this paper, writing. It is a statement, assertion, or proposition of which the truth or falsity can be ascertained. It is the identifiable meaning of the content of my words.
On the other hand, as long as this faute remains hidden, she is protected because she cannot be accused of that which is not known. The anguish brought about by passion therefore silences him in several ways: This economy of words sometimes fails to fully convey his suffering. The witness can either be the confidant or members of the audience. According to Barnett, language or rather the choice of language becomes the most important tool used by Racine to portray the inner workings and motivations of his multi-faceted conflict helix, through the manipulation of le dit and le dire.
This complicity is the beginning of the process of catharsis, the emotional purging which according to Aristotle, the audience is intended to experience during the course of the play. In other words, the characters have no other weapon than words, or their opposite, the withholding of words. The silences are as important as what is said and 11 J. Slatkine Reprints, , pp. We also have assumptions, innuendos, suggestions, which can have far reaching consequences on the comprehension of speech and in addition, we must recognise the fact that the non-dit is not only a play with language, it can, in some cases, express the unspeakable.
An example of this is the use of metonymy by Racine in his drama. Metonymy is based on substitution by things that are found together, making it possible to envisage a second reality parallel to the one presented initially. Her speech seems to be detached from the emotional domain. This is far from the case because her words reveal the strategy that she seeks to use to win the heart of Hippolyte. We see the presentation of two realities, whose common denominator is the theme of alienation.
Consequently, metonymy operates as a transition between the literal and figurative sense; we cannot, therefore, confine ourselves to the initial interpretation of her words, we must also seek their various implications and meanings. La Fontaine based his Contes on the aesthetics of suggestion, the art of making readers understand without explicit exposition.
He reminds us of this concept in a fable dedicated to La Rochefoucauld: That is to say, there is a discrepancy between what the audience knows they are able to interpret things differently and what some of the characters know because they have only partial knowledge. In addition, the audience have access to monologues that are meant for their benefit to enlighten them. They cannot be part of the game: Racine himself claimed that Britannicus is the tragedy on which he laboured the most.
Britannicus presents several interesting aspects of linguistic strategies employed by characters to manipulate others. The dialogues are often biased, ambiguous or misleading, the characters often hide behind words that hide their true intentions, which still betray them anyway and 13 J.
Goldmann sees the rhetoric employed by the characters both victims and aggressors as a justification for their egoism and individualism. He sees each scene of Britannicus as being: The spectators know that this is said in bad faith; it is an illustration of his modus operandi. There is always an element of misunderstanding to be found between the said and the unsaid, between ordinary language and coded messages, which can only be decoded by a careful reader or spectator.
We argue that this dysfunctional nature of language allows the aggressors to manipulate others and, at the same time, prevents the victims from fully comprehending the implications of events occurring around them. We will illustrate this point with a further analysis of Britannicus. The eponymous hero is still more or less an adolescent who has not yet been fully immunised against the pitfalls of society. He is unable to decode most of what is said, he takes the information made available to him at face value.
Unable to grasp the language of double meaning, he often misses the irony in the words of his interlocutors. We offer great value books on a wide range of subjects and we have grown steadily to become one of the UK's leading retailers of second-hand books. We now ship over two million orders each year to satisfied customers throughout the world and take great pride in our prompt delivery, first class customer service and excellent feedback. While we do our best to provide good quality books for you to read, there is no escaping the fact that it has been owned and read by someone else before you.
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