Character Analysis Oenone


Unlike the generally self-effacing confidantes in Racine's plays, Oenone has extraordinary stature. She is almost a major character, another Phaedra played in a different key. Like her mistress she is the victim of an overwhelming passion — in her case, maternal-like love. Her misdeeds are not the result of an evil nature but the perversion of a virtue. She is not an Iago taking a malicious pleasure in dispensing perfidious advice. Her schemes and treachery are motivated only by the hysterical desire to protect her charge. Oenone, like Phaedra, loves not wisely but too well, and like Phaedra too, expiates her crime by suicide.