Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Off stage

Off stage. Characters refer to actions that they can see, but that the audience can only imagine, chiefly for comic effects. In the opening scene, however, these descriptions contrast the personalities of Andromache—who describes a beautiful, sunny day—with soldiers stopping to caress stray cats—and Cassandra—who cynically sees suffering and cats as emblems of tigers and of danger. The ambiguity of the play revolves around the question of whether war will break out and hangs on the conflict between these two visions that the audience can not verify.

Similar offstage observations invoke sexual suggestions for comic purposes. As Helen approaches, for example, her entry teasingly delayed, Cassandra jealously describes how she displays her beauty to the men of Troy.


Battlefield. The serious aspect of war appears with Hector who describes the battle from which he has just come to explain to Andromache why he now opposes war. The vision that begins in beauty with images of nature turns to a portrayal of inflicting death as akin to suicide. By portraying the scene through Hector’s narration, Giraudoux can totally transform it.

Paris’s ship

Paris’s ship. Suggestive sexuality returns when the sailors describe the voyage on which Paris takes Helen to Troy as a prisoner. The sailors graphically describe the positions of the bodies they observed on deck to prove that Trojan men are lovers of beautiful women.