The politics of Esther

Campbell, J. (2009) The politics of Esther. Seventeenth-Century French Studies, 31(1), pp. 25-35.

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/175226909X445259

Abstract

Racine's tragedy Esther is often presented as a religious poem extolling piety and innocence. This article argues that this reading is complicated by the political dimension of the work. This dimension is reflected in the context in which Esther was first performed, as well as in allusions to the prevailing socio-political situation and to the drama that is played out within the work. Despite the author's stated intention to compose a work of piety, his indebtedness to the two biblical versions of the Esther story and to other books of the Old Testament, the plot is based on a story of hatred, persecution, plotting, revenge, and extermination that exists in uncomfortable counterpoint to the hymns to God's goodness and providence chanted by a Chorus of innocent young maidens. The article concludes by suggesting that Esther does not offer any easy reading as a victory of right over might, and good over evil.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Campbell, Professor John
Authors: Campbell, J.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > French
Journal Name:Seventeenth-Century French Studies
Publisher:Maney Publishing
ISSN:0265-1068
Published Online:01 July 2009
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2009 Maney Publishing
First Published:First published in Seventeenth-Century French Studies 31(1):25-35
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.

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