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date: 15 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

“Julia Ward Howe’s Hippolytus”examines the noted American writer and social activist’s 1857 verse play Hippolytus in the context of her own life and work. One of two new versions of Greek tragedy written in nineteenth-century America, the play was slated to be performed by the famous actors Edwin Booth and Charlotte Cushman, but finally received its first performance in Boston in 1911. Howe’s Hippolytus remains more attractively chaste than in Euripides’ Hippolytus and her hyper-passionate Phaedra is more deliberately seductive and immoral than in Seneca’s and Racine’s Phaedras. The hero’s inspired relation to Artemis is emphasized by the goddess’s direct encounters and engagement with him. Howe’s other literary works offer representations of female sexuality and male–female relations unusually frank for the period. Her own tensions with her husband, Samuel Gridley Howe, may also have played a role in her framing of this play’s issues.

Keywords: Julia Ward Howe, Samuel Gridley Howe, Edwin Booth, Charlotte Cushman, Hippolytus, Phaedra, nineteenth-century tragedy

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