Emotion and Abjection: Voices of Despair


I argue in this paper that Troades is a study in the psychology of helplessness, of the hopes, the evasions, the self-deceptions and transient highs, the lows as the bitter realities reassert themselves, that Hecubaand the other enslaved women experience over the course of the play. There are momentary pleasures that derive from fantasies of revenge, or from escapist thoughts of suicide, or from the belief that one can reason with the masters andthereby exercise at least a minimal form of agency. In the end, however, there is no refuge in the mind, no way in which the women can salvage their moral identity in the face of slavery. The play thus flirts with allowing the women anillusion of agency, with which to counteract the hopelessness of their situation, but then immediately deprives them of it, drawing them back to despair.