Racine’s beasts – the monster figure in Phèdre

This article focuses on the presence and the meaning of monsters in Racine’s play Phèdre. The sea monster emerging at the end of act five has been acknowledged as a baroque element challenging the otherwise perfect classicist drama. There are, however, more monsters to be studied in this tragedy. On the one hand, killing a monster is worthy only of a hero; on the other hand, being called a monster equals a death sentence. By analyzing the different occurrences of monsters, this article argues that the representations of monsters in Phèdre unveil a certain logic of their own that support the dramatic development of the play.

Keywords: Racine, Phèdre, monster, baroque, French classicism, hero