Word As Action: Racine, Rhetoric, and Theatrical Language

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Hawcroft presents an exploration of the theatrical qualities of the language of France's greatest tragedian, Jean Racine, taking as its analytical tool two neglected parts of rhetoric—inventio and dispositio. Racine's dialogue is exciting, Hawcroft argues, because he makes persuasive interaction of characters a key feature of his dramatic technique. This book shows how Racine deploys persuasion in well-defined contexts: trials, embassies, and councils; informal oratory as protagonists try to manipulate each other and their confidants in order to make their own views and wishes prevail; self-persuasion in monologues; and narrations, often used by characters with persuasive intent. The book draws illuminating and provocative comparisons with other playwrights and offers a closer and better documented description of the specific nature of Racine's theatrical language than has previously been available in any one study.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Verbal Action and Rhetorical Theory 12
I Action and Verbal Action 12
II Some Affinities between Rhetoric and Drama 26
III Racine's Rhetoric 29
IV Rhetorical Theory: Inventio and Dispositio 34
2 Formal Oratory: Trials, Embassies, and Councils 61
I Forensic Orators in Les Plaideurs 62
II Three Ambassadors: Mathan, Ephestion, and Oreste 74
III A Family Embassy: Racine's and Du Ryer's Esther 92
IV Family Oratory in Britannicus and Mithridate 102
3 Informal Oratory: The Protagonists 113
I Masked and Unmasked Orators: Iphigenie and Astrate 114
II Inquisitorial Oratory: Anaximenes and Mithridate 134
III Berenice: Elegy, Verbal Action, and Corneille's Tite et Berenice 142
4 Informal Oratory: The Confidants 160
I Corneille's Sophonisbe: The Dangers Illustrated 162
II Racine's Persuasive Confidants: The Example of Albine 167
III When Confidants Meet their Partners after the Exposition: Andromaque and Phedre 174
5 Self-Persuasion: Monologues 183
I Lyricism versus Persuasion: Antigone, Antiochus, and Atalide 188
II Deliberative and Judicial Oratory in Racine's Monologues 197
III Accompanied Monologues: Phedre, Racine, and Pradon 211
6 Persuasive Narrations 218
I Dramatic Narrative: Bajazet 219
II The Death Recit: Andromaque, Britannicus, and Phedre 225
Conclusion 243
I Arguments 243
II Problems 245
III Rhetoric and Tragedy 250
Appendix: Scheme of Inventio and Dispositio 254
Bibliography 255
Index of Rhetorical Terms 269
Index of Racine's Works 271
Index of Names 273
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