Character Analysis Aricia


While Racine lacks Shakespeare's universal curiosity and limits himself to a few recurrent themes, he achieves a great deal of variety within his narrow range. Thus while Aricia and Phaedra are, on the surface, parallel characters, two women in love with the same man, they are really antithetical. Together, they incarnate Racine's leitmotif of night and day. Phaedra exudes darkness while Aricia is a luminous creation. Her love is pure, chaste, and selfless. She has the innocence and reticence of the virgin. Unlike Phaedra, who flaunts herself before Hippolytus, Aricia waits shyly for the traditional proposal and makes her own declaration demurely. Love degrades Phaedra, but it elevates Aricia and gives her a special radiance.