COMMENTARY: Racine's Phedra is one of the most unrelenting of the great classical tragedies. All of the characters are victims of Fate and the hatred of the gods. Phedra, wife of Theseus, herself the daughter of Minos and a descendant of the Sun, is passionately in love with her stepson Hippolytus. Her feelings of guilt are overwhelming. Hippolytus is in love with Aricia and is shocked when he learns of Phedra's passion for him. The sudden return of Theseus, who was believed dead, sends the tragedy spiralling to its disastrous conclusion. Through their monologues and dialogues all of the characters express a torment that is unbearable. Death is almost a welcome relief from the pounding tension.