Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Andromaque (ahn-dro-MAHK), the widow of Hector, the Trojan hero, and mother of his small son Astyanax. Andromaque, now a slave of the Greek hero Pyrrhus, spurns his advances; she has promised to be true to her dead husband. Pyrrhus does nothing to bring Andromaque to a real understanding of her situation as his slave. Frantic with love for her, Pyrrhus threatens to kill her son if she will not marry him, but he counters his extravagant threats against the boy’s life with equally extravagant promises for the future of Andromaque and her son. Pyrrhus actually fosters Andromaque’s capacity to live in a dream, in a world of words, of codes, of courtly manners, until her mind is filled with a view of her past estate so incurably romantic that she cannot comprehend her present condition. Pyrrhus finally abandons hope of marrying Andromaque and repledges himself to Hermione, whereupon Andromaque begs Hermione to spare the life of Astyanax. Still jealous of Andromaque, Hermione rejects her plea. Andromaque, to save the life of her son, consents to marry Pyrrhus, but she remains full of unrealistic contrivance. Having obtained Pyrrhus’ promises to guard her child forever, she plans to kill herself immediately after the wedding rites. Andromaque is still on this high note of idealistic foolhardiness when Pyrrhus is killed by the soldiers of Oreste.


Pyrrhus (peer-REWS), the king of Epirus, Achilles’ son, betrothed to Hermione. He has come to regret his exploits in the Trojan War because they may have cost him Andromaque’s love. He tries to move Andromaque by threatening to kill her son. He is so wild with love that, like Oreste, he becomes unreasonable and unmanly. Aristocratic and demanding, he must have his way with Andromaque, whatever the cost and despite his pledge to Hermione, who also must have her way. Caught in a situation...

(The entire section is 799 words.)