*Magnify*
SPONSORED LINKS
Get it for
Apple iOS.
Creative fun in
the palm of your hand.
Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1560098
Rated: E · Script/Play · Drama · #1560098
This scene shows the relationship between Hermonie and Andromache as the tension builds.
Act 3 Scene 1 The Two Women


All three scenes of this act take place in the House of Neopotolemous (Pyrrhus). The house has three subsets which include a courtyard, great room, and connecting portico. On a mural is the temple of Thetus, who is the family's patron goddess. Thetus and Peleus are Pyrrhus's grandparents. They were the mother and father of Achilles. This setting enables a separation of the action where it is appropriate. For example, Orestes and Hermione can be in the portico while Menelaus and Pyrrhus are in the great room. This Act takes place about a year after the one that proceeds it. Hermione and Pyrrhus have been married about six months.

HERMIONE
I had high hopes for this marriage and nothing came of it. My husband loves another, the slave woman Andromacha. On the voyage home she conceived a son, Molossus. Pyrrhus keeps them discretely at his grandfather's house, where he spends altogether too much time on "Business." I'm told she doesn't love him, no surprise there, that she was forced, well not according to what I hear. But whatever their relationship, one thing's clear. His heart's in her hand and there's no room left for me. Not that he doesn't come around here... you know, for that worrisome little task of his? And when he comes, he brings the sap! But there's no joy in it and I'm glad when he's done. My only recourse is to bear him a son. Now that would please everyone! Then I could leave this miserable place and return home, to a life, a love and a happiness that I dare not think about.
(Pounding on door)
Now who could that be at this hour? Wait let me guess...
(Goes to door and opens it. Then jumps back in surprise.)
Great god, can it be?

ORESTES
In the flesh, your once betrothed, ever at your service!

HERMIONE
Orestes, I was just thinking about you.

ORESTES
Good things?

HERMIONE
If seeing you is a good thing. What brings you to Pharsalus?

ORESTES
Business with your father.

HERMIONE
Father comes too?

ORESTES
Not far behind. I came ahead, hoping we might have words together, alone.

HERMIONE
I'm a married woman now.

ORESTES
Is your husband home?

HERMIONE
Not tonight and never for very long. This past week less than usual.

ORESTES
How can he bear your absence?

HERMIONE
Oh, he manages that well enough. You'd not believe all the preparations he's made for his pilgrimage to Delphi.

ORESTES
He goes to Delphi?

HERMIONE
To celebrate the nuptials of his friend, Philistes, who married a slave girl on the voyage home. They're taking over twenty mules, loaded with every imaginable thing.

ORESTES
What sorts of things?

HERMIONE
All manner of goods, food, bolts of cloth, casts of wine, and chests filled with gold and silver.

ORESTES
To celebrate nuptials at the festival?

HERMIONE
I think Pyrrhus also wants to make peace with the gods over some sort of blasphemy.

ORESTES
That explains it better. You know I'm still in love with you?

HERMIONE
Dear Orestes, I'll always hold our times together warmly in my heart. Our courtship is filled with fond memories. It is awful here and you're never far from my mind.
(They embrace...Enter Pyrrhus.)

PYRRHYUS
Do I intrude?
(They both jump back!)

HERMIONE
(Nervously)
Good news Pyrrhus...Ahhh...Orestes has come from Sparta to visit us.

PYRRHUS
So I see
(Sarcastically)
Good news indeed.

HERMIONE
And my father will soon be here as well.

PYRRHUS
Oh, that too!

ORESTES
I hope you don't get the wrong impression?

PYRRHUS
I think I have that right. To what do we owe the pleasure of this visit?

ORESTES
(Nervously gestures to Hermione)
Her father misses her... and I can't say I blame him.

PYRRHUS
His affection is understandable.... Yours isn't!

ORESTES
Is this how you greet me?

PYRRHUS
You would expect something different?

ORESTES
Frankly, I was hoping to find you away.

PYRRHUS
I have no trouble believing that.

HERMIONE
Stop it, you two...

PYRRHUS
Was my arrival importune... How untimely of me. I should be more discreet.

HERMIONE
This isn't as you see it!

PYRRHUS
Then let me tell you how I see it. I come home unexpectedly and find my wife draped in the arms of the man I despise most, who by strangest coincidence happens to be her once betrothed and come again lover.... What am I missing from this happy picture?

ORESTES
(Puts hand to his sword hilt.)
We're cousins and friends since childhood. What you imply is vile and insulting!

HERMIONE
Enough of this!

PYRRHUS
(Puts hand to his own.)
It's you that's vile and insulting. Your vile family brings insult to everything it touches and I'll not abide you under this roof!

ORESTES
You'll regret that slander!

PYRRHUS
Don't threaten me you abomination. Now get out before I do something I'll enjoy, but regret later.
(Hermione who is shaken pushes Orestes, livid with anger, out of portico into courtyard.)

ORESTES
By the gods, I'll get even.

PYRRHUS
By the gods you'll be dead if you don't shut up!

HERMIONE
Go now, Wait for me outside!
(Returns)
How could you be so cruel to me?

PYRRHUS
(Still beside himself with anger)
What did you expect under the circumstances?

HERMIONE
Trust and understanding!

PYRRHUS
What I saw transcends all understanding!

HERMIONE
We were long betrothed. Are you threatened by the shreds of yesterday?

PYRRHUS
The sunbeam of a smile I might understand, but not the moonbeams in his eyes!

HERMIONE
The memory of our courtship, retains its sentiment!

PYRRHUS
More than sentiment has passed between you two!

HERMIONE
You had no scruples about the dowry. Was the marriage not in order?

PYRRHUS
All but hymen's testimony!

HERMIONE
From youth all Spartan girls face an intensive physical regimen. Many a young woman ruptures her membrane.

PYRRHUS
So you say, leaving to imagination, the nature and repetition of the exercise.

HERMIONE
A small matter.

PYRRHUS
Yours wasn't a small matter. It was stretched and well oiled.

HERMIONE
Why do you take such offense at my virtue?

PYRRHUS
Your virtue doesn't offend me. Only your lies!
(Meanwhile out in the courtyard, Menelaus has arrived. He meets Orestes storming out.)

ORESTES
Pyrrhus has thrown me out!

MENELAUS
What's happened?

ORESTES
We had ugly words!

MENELAUS
Wait here, I'll take care of it.

ORESTES
He called me an "Abomination!"

MENELAUS
Better you wait outside and let your emotions cool off.

ORESTES
Its all right... I'm calming down.

MENELAUS
Did you find out anything?

ORESTES
Briseis and Philistes are married since the voyage. Tomorrow they go to Delphi to celebrate nuptials. They're taking a rich train of twenty loaded mules. Pyrrhus goes too, to atone for his blasphemy.

MENELAUS
(To Orestes.)
Recalling what he said twenty mules might not be enough..
(Aside)
But generous for a lad that never took religion too seriously. And Briseis and Philistes married, going to the festival to celebrate? Hmmmm, a good match and I wish them every happiness...

ORESTES
You said more?

MENELAUS
Just thinking out loud. There's something about this that strikes me odd, but I can't put my finger on it. I'm glad I brought you. Check out the town and see what you can find out.

ORESTES
I'll get started as soon as I can.

MENELAUS
(Comes inside and encounters his daughter running past in tears. She pauses, looks at her father, but can't bear to speak. Sobs and keeps going.)
Now that's a warm greeting, for someone who just rode two hundred miles.
(Keeps walking into the great room and sees Pyrrhus.)
What's this ill feeling between you and Orestes?

PYRRHUS
Minutes ago I arrived home, finding Orestes and Hermione in each other's arms. They showed intimacy that no husband could mistake. When I discovered them ,the guilt jumped out of their sandals. With much hemming and hawing and many stammered words they protested it to be only the most innocent of friendships. Imagine my disbelief, imagine my anger, married not six months, to find my wife swooning in the arms of her once betrothed.

MENELAUS
Shocking.

PYRRHUS
Don't try and placate me father. Your're not surprised. You knew all along there was more to this than I was told.

MENELAUS
You're angry with me? Do I detect a twinge of jealously? Now that's a positive sign indeed! Forgive me if I take heart, for I find it most encouraging. It dispels the impression that you couldn't care less about being a husband, about my daughter's happiness or about anything beyond your preoccupation with a certain slave woman I won't bother mentioning. Don't overplay this act of yours. I know a bad performance when I see it. Who knows better than I the role of betrayed husband? I starred in it all my life and acted it out with far more sincerity than this lame performance of yours!

PYRRHUS
(Takes a deep breath...starts back peddling)
Forgive me father. I'm only fooling myself and you look right through me. There was bad blood between my father and Agamemnon and between Orestes and me is the same bitter enmity. When I saw him in Hermione's arms, my eyes gleamed; for I saw both the justification and opportunity to kill him and I'd have done it, but for your daughter, who intervened, hiding that vulture behind her skirts.

MENELAUS
Now that's a speech better suited to your temperament. How I relish it when you speak to me from the heart. But keep in mind the "Vulture" you refer to is my nephew and be thankful you were restrained from spilling his blood. If I can abide his shame, you could have suffered it one night.

PYRRHUS
I'm sorry father.

MENELAUS
Don't apologize for the qualities I admire most in you. Just sire me a grandson worthy of your bloodline; You owe me that much, if nothing else. Remember how I came to your aid at the Palace? Haven't I watched over you like a guardian angel?

PYRRHUS
I need no reminder. I'm honored you chose me as your son, and believe me, I've done everything I can to get Hermione with child. I've slept with no other woman since our marriage. Ask her, if you've any doubts. If she's not happy, it's my fault, and I'll try harder to meet her expectations.

MENELAUS
Enough! I know my daughter better than you ever will. I love her, but understand too how difficult she can be. Hermione has her mother's beauty and her temperament. It she asks, let her think this is the purpose of my visit, but I didn't come here to offer marital advice.

PYRRHUS
(Struggles to maintain his composure.)
There's another reason?

MENELAUS
As the battle raged for Troy, while you were in the palace, Helenus, the sage, you remember him? made a prophesy. He ordained that Helen would be returned, that Orestes would be disgraced and that a son of Hector would one day rule the world. The first two parts are now fulfilled. The third makes me tremble, that we've endured so much only to have it taken by the future.

PYRRHUS
Didn't Hector have some illegitimate children?

MENELAUS
They're all accounted for.

PYRRHUS
Then how could the prophecy be true?

MENELAUS
I'm told that Andromacha has a son. Was she pregnant when you got her? I know your gently heart, Pyrrhus. Don't deceive me! If she was then say it now. Let mine be the heavy hand.

PYRRHUS
(Hides his relief in laughter)
If this is what brought you all the way from Sparta, then you endured a sore ass for nothing. Andromacha was conceived at Andros, I should know. That was six months after we sailed from Troy. My son by her, Molossus, was born nine months after that. He's but three months old.

MENELAUS
You're certain of this?

PYRRHUS
Take a look at him. His age speaks for itself.

MENELAUS
I plan to.

PYRRHUS
You doubt my word?

MENELAUS
What's a man's word against divine prophesy? If this isn't the answer, what other is there?

PYRRHUS
There's evidence of my truth in the ship's log. You can question my captain's who accompanied me on the voyage. Only the pilot and his son are not available for, they are at sea. Oh and Briseis and Philistes, who will accompany me to Delphi. They're married now and tomorrow we go to the festival.

MENELAUS
They're a good match. Give them my congratulations.

PYRRHUS
Is that all you wish to give?

MENELAUS
Had I known in advance, I would have brought an appropriate gift.
(Reaches for his purse and tosses it to Pyrrhus)
Give him this instead.

PYRRHUS
Not exactly what I had in mind, but they will appreciate it.

MENELAUS
Exactly what were you thinking?

PYRRHUS
Philistes will want to enter his parent's name in the register.

MENELAUS
And you think I can shed some light on that?

PYRRHUS
I think you know what I'm referring to.

MENELAUS
(Ponders)
What harm does it do now? His mother's dead. Tell him her name was Seneca, my sisters'.

PYRRHUS
I never expected that. He will be honored.

MENELAUS
Consider it just another small favor. Ohhh and Pyrrhus?

PYRRHUS
Yes?

MENELAUS
There's two more I want to see tomorrow.

PYRRHUS
(Guarded fear)
Who's that?

MENELAUS
Andromacha and your son Molossus.

PYRRHUS
As you wish. Anything else?

MENELAUS
Only this. You have a dangerous enemy in Orestes. Be on your guard as you travel about.

PYRRHUS
I'm warned.
(Motions to servant)
Show the king to his quarters and extend him every courtesy. Goodnight father.

MENELAUS
Goodnight, Pyrrhus.
(Pyrrhus exits as Menelaus throws his satchel and sword on the couch. Then walks to center stage)
He seems to speak fairly, but I sense he's holding something back.
(Follows servant to room. Scene fades out of great hall, zooms in on Portico where Orestes and Hermione are talking quietly)

HERMIONE
Have you calmed down?

ORESTES
Your husband rubs shame on raw wounds.

HERMIONE
He would have done worse if you had drawn your sword.

ORESTES
I have no fear of him!

HERMIONE
You are no match for his violence.

ORESTES
Death has no fright. I'd welcome it like an angel, taking me from my misery.

HERMIONE
It breaks my heart that we should meet so again.

ORESTES
Mine too. I never should've come here. It only brings back the memory of hopes and dreams that might have been. A bitter sweet recollection that makes me weep with despair and cry for joy, all in the same heartbeat. I'm a ruined man. It's better that I go now so you can save your marriage, a task made harder by my visit.

HERMIONE
I'm glad you came. There's no shame in a greeting. Seeing you has cheered me up and finally brought out the pus in a sore and nagging canker. If it leads me to angry words with Pyrrhus, then they're long overdue.

ORESTES
You'll need more than words to change him. It'll take action and resolve.

HERMIONE
How so?

ORESTES
There's no easy way to say this. You must kill Andromacha and her son. Otherwise, they'll always be an obstacle that stands in the way of your happiness.

HERMIONE
Dear gods, you can't be serious? I could never do that and if I did, Pyrrhus would never forgive me.

ORESTES
Your husband's a brute who sees well only those things that are right under his nose. Sure, he'll be angry at first, but your father will bring pressure and soon enough it will pass. Then your charm and beauty can help him get over it.

HERMIONE
It's unthinkable!

ORESTES
If you can think it you can do it. Your mother is Helen but your father is Menelaus. You've only to resolve and your Spartan training will do the rest.

HERMOINE
Is this the only way?

ORESTES
I know it sound harsh but it's the only language your husband understands. Just make sure you strike quickly and with good aim. If you botch the attempt your marriage is lost.

HERMIONE
Lost?

ORESTES
He'd come to her rescue, she'd rush to his arms and they'd console one another in the ruins of your marriage.

HERMOINE
A bleak forecast.

ORESTES
After awhile you'd be sent home to face shame and disgrace, a barren and forsaken woman.

HERMOINE
Dark indeed.

ORESTES
This is hard talk but I'm compelled to speak bluntly, to make sure you clearly understand what's at stake.

HERMIONE
Thanks for the advice.

ORESTES
I'm already rewarded and long ago paid. Once upon a time you came to my arms giving my heart many a cherished memory. They've cheered me through some dark hours. I'll always love you and be here if you ever need me. Goodbye my love.

HERMOINE
Goodbye.
(Hermione walks back into the Great Room and meets Pyrrhus leaving.)
Don't tell me you're leaving dear husband. What a shame. You know how I look forward to our romantic interludes.

PYRRHUS
Your father wants to do interviews tomorrow and I'm going to make sure everyone's notified.

HERMIONE
There I go again, only thinking about myself. I can see this is a matter of high importance that requires your individual attention. A less dedicated prince would send a servant knocking on doors at this hour, unless of course, there's a particular door you'd like to bang in person.

PYRRHUS
Is something bothering you?

HERMIONE
(Trying to restrain anger)
Bothering me? You call me a slut. You humiliate me in front of my cousin. You provoke him to the point of deadly quarrel and embarrass me in front of my father. Do I look bothered?

PYRRHUS
I behaved badly.

HERMIONE
Your behavior was no different than usual. I should be getting used to it.

PYRRHUS
You think me a brute?

HERMIONE
I see you for what you are, a man of gloom and despair. Pining for a woman who doesn't love him.

PYRRHUS
Is that so?

HERMOINE
What else is there to think? Since there's no joy in your life, you're offended by the happiness of others and seek to make their dives as destitute as your own.

PYRRHUS
I won't be cuckold under my own roof!

HERMIONE
How convenient an excuse. Like there's really any chance of that. You only say it to infect me with your misery.

PYRRHUS
I behaved badly. I'll try and make it up to you, but there's more to your anger than what happened tonight. What's really bothering you?

HERMIONE
Andromacha bothers me.

PYRRHUS
Don't I come to you as often as I should?

HERMIONE
Yes, but you bring me no joy.

PYRRHUS
Don't I rise to the occasion?

HERMOINE
My desire isn't thirsty.

PYRRHUS
Am I not virile?

HERMIONE
My womb only shrugs.

PYRRHUS
Hasn't my passion cried out?

HERMIONE
In the agony of our intercourse.

PYRRHUS
I've given you all I have.

HERMOINE
It isn't enough.

PYRRHUS
What more is there?

HERMIONE
Nothing, if you don't love me.

PYRRHUS
Don't ask for what isn't there.

HERMIONE
Oh Pyrrhus, don't you have the slightest bit for me? I would share you with a slave, for a kernel of the affection she commands in your heart. I'd cherish the crumbs of your love, tossed on the floor, and cling to them like the wettest sponge. They'd warm my soul and if you added a kind word, aimed at my face, I'd swoon like a lovesick maid. But what's the use? You have nothing for me.

PYRRHUS
You exaggerate.

HERMIONE
Exaggerate? You think I don't know what goes on in that simple mind of yours. You think I don't know the truth that gleams in your eyes?

PYRRHUS
The truth of what?

HERMOINE
The truth of what you're doing with me!

PYRRHUS
And what's that?

HERMOINE
You're venting on me a passion intended for someone else.

PYRRHUS
That's absurd!

HERMOINE
Absurd? You know exactly what I'm talking about. How you pretend it's Andromacha instead of me when we're making love. Imagining with me all of those things you'd much rather be doing with her.

PYRRHUS
I didn't realize....

HERMOINE
What, that it's so obvious? But let me take a moment's joy, innocently, in the arms of an old friend, cruelly used by the harshest of fates, and you go straight for the throat, strangling innocent happiness, in the piss-pot of your discontent.

PYRRHUS
What have I done?

HERMOINE
You've become a monster.

PYRRHUS
(Shaken)
It might be best if Narcolus made the notifications tonight. Go upstairs and wait for me. I'll join you after I compose myself. Tell me tomorrow if you notice a difference.
















© Copyright 2009 percy goodfellow (trebor at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Log in to Leave Feedback
Username:
Password:
Not a Member?
Signup right now, for free!
All accounts include:
*Bullet* FREE Email @Writing.Com!
*Bullet* FREE Portfolio Services!
Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1560098