Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Hector, the leader of the Trojan army and son of King Priam, a warrior who understands the costs as well as the attractions of war. Having just returned from the bloody battlefield, he now longs for peace. He is strong, not only physically but also morally, believing in life and responding to all that is natural and good. His overwhelming desire to shut the Gates of War enables him to bend others—Priam, Helen, Paris, and even the Greek Ulysses—to his will. He is determined and confident enough to ignore insults on the way to creating peace. Because of his youth, however, he does not realize that it may be easier to control an army than to control the illogical, emotional behavior of a single individual or to alter fate.


Andromache (an-DRAH-mah-kee), Hector’s wife, his match in wisdom, moral strength, and desire for peace. As a woman, she sees only the loss and tragedy of war, and she is unable to understand why poets find glory in death and destruction. She believes in love and honesty, and she laments the fact that hypocrisy, not honor, breeds war. She most regrets that if the war occurs, it will be fought for lovers who do not really love each other.


Helen, the wife of Menelaus, a king of Greece. She represents external beauty and is incapable of any deep feeling. She cares only for things that are vivid or bright enough to catch her attention, and nothing holds her attention long. In many ways, she is the most complicated figure in the play. It is all too easy to characterize her as shallow, as just a pretty face. She is that, but she is more. In her own, admittedly rather self-centered way, she is as much a visionary as Cassandra. A creature of fate, she is also stoic. She readily accepts what must happen. She...

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