Racine's stylistic distinction is, perhaps, his outstanding achievement. In seventeenth-century France, it took a genius to avoid the monotony of the metronome and the dullness of a child's primer. Classicism, in reaction to the verbal exuberance of the Renaissance, severely restricted the playwright's vocabulary. Racine had at his disposal a limited number of colorless words, chosen for their aura of elegance and nobility. He could not use the arsenal of sounds, scents, tastes, and colors of the daily vocabulary, because they were not sufficiently "noble." He was also forbidden the introduction of images, except those consecrated by usage, for the seventeenth century did not prize originality. Unlike Shakespeare, Racine could not possibly compare life to "a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more." The "player"
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vocabulary. Racine, similar dramatic effect, ne le point