What role do anger, jealousy, lust, and guilt play in the play Phaedra?

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To write an essay about passions in Phaedra, you could break down the different types of passions and how they drive the characters in the play.

For example, romantic passion and lust are personified in the character of Phaedra. She wants Hippolytus so much that she ignores the fact that he's her stepson. Romantic passion can also be a positive thing, though. Hippolytus's love for Aricia is positive and helps heal the problems between two different groups of people—even though he doesn't survive the play.

Anger is another powerful emotion the characters in the play experience. Phaedra's anger at Hippolytus and Aricia is completely unfair and linked to her passionate love for her stepson. Theseus's anger is misguided and fueled by lies. He calls for vengeance on his son because of Phaedra's lies.

Phaedra's guilt is another strong emotion that drives the story forward. Phaedra can't handle her guilt over her incestuous feelings for Hippolytus when she realizes her husband and his father is actually still alive. She's willing to lie about Hippolytus to keep his father from learning the truth.

You could argue that the passions in the play are what keeps the action moving. Unhealthy passions, like the incestuous love and guilt Phaedra feels, create negative consequences for all the characters. If everyone had been reasonable and not guided by their emotions, there might not have been a tragedy at all.

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