Andromache Characters
by Jean Racine

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Andromache Characters

Andromache is a tragedy set in the aftermath of the Trojan War. The characters are Greeks and Trojans whose lives are joined by love and separated by their varying goals and allegiances.

Hermione

Hermione, the daughter of Menelaus and Helen of Troy, loves Pyrrhus; the pair are engaged. Oreste, the son of Agamemnon, loves Hermione. Hermione is jealous of Pyrrhus's infatuation with Andromache and she conspires with Oreste to have Andromache and Pyyrhus killed. However, she later laments her actions, realizing too late that she truly did love Pyyrhus.

Pyrrhus

Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, is now King of Epirus. Although engaged to Hermione, he loves Andromache, the widow of Hector, to whom she has vowed perpetual fidelity. This inappropriate love, combined with Pyyrhus's arrogance, has derailed his reason and caused him to betray his warrior status. He is ultimately killed by Oreste's men on what would have been his wedding day.

Andromache

Andromache was widowed when her husband, Hector, the hero of Troy, was killed. Pyrrhus, wild with desire, has enslaved her, but she steadfastly remains faithful to Hector’s memory. Pyrrhus alternates between menacing and indulgent behavior; he both threatens to kill Astyanax, her son, and lavishes her with luxuries to distract her from her prisoner status. Her central dilemma centers on her desire to remain faithful to her deceased husband and her need to save her son, whatever the cost.

Menelaus and Helen of Troy

Hermione’s parents were Menelaus and Helen of Troy. As a dutiful daughter, Hermione follows her father’s wishes that she become engaged to Pyrrhus, who is tempted to abandon her for Andromache. Hermione’s pride leads her to reject Andromache’s plea for her help in saving Astyanax. In her anger and jealousy toward Pyrrhus, she toys with Oreste’s affections. Spurned by Pyrrhus, she aids Oreste in planning his murder. Confronting the reality of her fiancé’s death and her role in it, brought home by seeing his body, propels her to suicide.

Oreste

Oreste, the son of Agamemnon, is melancholic and immature, likely cursed by the gods. His duty in Epirus is to take Astyanax’s life, but he is distracted by his love for Hermione. His lack of self-control, culminating in Pyrrhus’s murder, drives him mad.

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Andromaque

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

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....

(The entire section is 1,173 words.)