Essays in French Literature, Thought and Visual Culture
Emilia Wilton-Godberfforde Guilt’s Reconfiguration of Time and Relational Ties in Seventeenth-Century French Theatre: A Study of Molière’s Dom Juan, Rotrou’s Cosroès, Tristan L’Hermite’s La Mariane and Racine’s Phèdre 71
Emilia Wilton-Godberfforde Guilt’s Reconfiguration of Time and Relational Ties in Seventeenth-Century French Theatre: A Study of Molière’s Dom Juan, Rotrou’s Cosroès, Tristan L’Hermite’s La Mariane and Racine’s Phèdre The critic Madeleine Bertaud rightly declares that ‘[l]a présence du senti- ment de culpabilité apparaît bien comme une constante dans la tragédie classique’.1 She therefore objects to Racine’s Phèdre being used as an arche- typal model of guilt operating in the tragic sphere, asking ‘[p]ourquoi cependant prendre Phèdre comme la tragédie par excellence?’2 It is certainly true that the tortuous self-recrimination which haunts the protagonist has been extensively examined by critics, deflecting attention from other works which engage with the issue.3 In this article, the example of Phèdre will not be ignored, but I also aim to show other striking instances of guilt felt by characters in the tragic genre. I will reveal how the presence of guilt operates as a structuring dynamic which playwrights can exploit for dramatic effect. My approach will investigate how the expression of guilt is used as a device to construct temporal and relational frameworks within the plays. The feeling of guilt maps characters’ ways of conceiving the past, the present and the future, and their position within this continuum. Expressing guilt does not create 1 Madeleine Bertaud, ‘Ah! Je suis l’auteur de ce meurtre inhumain …’, Travaux de Littérature 8 (1995), 102. 2 Travaux de Littérature 8, 102. 3 For a...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.