She is suffering and conflicted about her feelings

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she is suffering and conflicted about her feelings for her stepson, which she knows are clearly unacceptable and immoral. The audience and readers of the play also know that Aphrodite had used her influence in causing these feelings in Phaedra, so we know also that Phaedra’s suffering is not one which she could very well control. It is when she realizes that she is found out by Hippolytus and kills herself, leaving an incriminating note against Hippolytus to preserve her and her children’s honor that she becomes a less sympathetic character. Hippolytus did nothing to harm Phaedra, and even honored his oath to never speak of her love for him to anyone. Even when Theseus came back to find Phaedra’s suicide note and cursed Hippolytus with the curses of Poseidon, banished Hippolytus, and scorned him, Hippolytus respected his father’s words and left the city. In the end of the play, when Hippolytus is dying because of the curses that Theseus had put on him and Theseus finally knows of the truth through Artemis, Hippolytus does not hate his father for what happened, and forgives Theseus instead. That Hippolytus is so honorable and true to himself to the very end of his life, makes his character that much more sympathetic than Phaedra ever could be when comparing the weight of each of their actions and endured sufferings.
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  • Spring '10
  • Hayes
  • Hippolytus

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