Kierkegaard presupposes that if the tragic hero speaks, he will be understood by others as they understand or share the same system of ethics. In contrast, he theorizes that the religious figure of Abraham, the knight of faith, whom he deems as neither a tragic nor an aesthetic hero, not only cannot speak, but that if he did, his language would be indecipherable to others, perhaps in that his language would not attest to an ethical logic or framework: Abraham would speak a divine language (Kierkegaard Fear and Trembling 123).
 It should be noted that, for Kierkegaard, the ethical is deemed a higher existential stage of life in regard to the aesthetic. He positions faith, however, as higher than the universal, and therefore much higher than the aesthetic. Given that Kierkegaard’s theory of faith revolves around a Christian ideology and God, this essay will refrain from importing such theories onto the polytheistic Greek culture and its tragedy.
 Interestingly, Kierkegaard never mentions Agamemnon’s duty to the gods, but rather specifically to the nation. He avoids all discussion of the polytheism of Agamemnon and focuses on his moral issue of preserving the state.
 Antigone may be the exception here, noting that, while she typically exemplifies the import of family/kin and thereby the domestic sphere, to a certain degree she acts as a political agent both in that she is a royal figure and her actions defy Creon’s hegemony. Furthermore, her defiant act of burying her brother is seen as ethically honorable as she defends divinely ordained mandates. Yet, even with Antigone, the spectator does not watch her agonizing with her ethical decision, one that may result in the destruction of an entire people, such as we do with Agamemnon in Iphigenia in Aulis.
 Indeed, we note that specifically in Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard’s examples of heroes, whether tragic or aesthetic, are consistently male. Only in his treatment of the character Antigone in Either/Or does Kierkegaard present a female tragic hero. Moreover, journal writings by Kierkegaard suggest he is pointedly aware of this gender issue in his treatment of the hero: “No doubt I could bring my Antigone to a conclusion if I let her be a man. […] I would then have my hero fall in a duel” (Papers and Journals 146 cited in Sestigiani 71).
 Kierkegaard writes, “womanliness now assumes the quality of abstract cruelty, which is the caricaturing extreme of essential virginal Sprödigkeit [coyness]. A man can never be as cruel as a woman. A search of mythology, folktales, legends will confirm this. If a representation is to be given of a principle of nature that in its ruthlessness knows no limits, then it is a feminine creature. Or one is terrified to read about a young girl who callously has her suitors liquidated, as one so frequently reads in the fairy tales of all people. On the wedding night, a Bluebeard kills all the girls he has loved, but he does not enjoy the killing of them; on the contrary, the enjoyment was antecedent, and therein lies the concretion – it is not cruelty for the sake of cruelty alone. A Don Juan seduces them and abandons them, but he has enjoyment not in abandoning them but rather in seducing them; therefore, it is in no way this abstract cruelty” (Either/Or 432). While one could argue that this is merely the character espousing this misogynistic sentiment and not Kierkegaard, there are numerous other textual examples that lend to Kierkegaard’s antifeminist views. Moreover, much scholarship has been devoted to examining “The Seducer’s Diary” from a biographical point of view, linking Kierkegaard’s own romantically turbulent relationship with that of the protagonist, Johannes.
 While many of the female figures in ancient Greek tragedy could be suitable for a textual analysis in terms of their Kierkegaardian heroics, the figure of Phaedra was chosen primarily due to her incessant struggle with silence and revelation. Phaedra in particular labors mentally and emotionally to determine the appropriate course, a moral battle that parallels that of Agamemnon. While an analysis of Medea may prove fruitful, Medea’s challenge has less to do with an issue of maintaining silence or revealing herself, her inwardness to others. Unlike Agamemnon, Medea does not kill her children for some “higher” purpose, but rather out of her own vengeful vendetta against Jason. However, she does seem to struggle perhaps even more than Agamemnon, for even moments before she enters the house to kill her children, she continuously vacillates, unsure of which path she will take, hugging them close to her one moment, unable to look at their Jason-esque faces another. Yet, Medea is not pulled by two distinct ethical poles – she wants to kill her children for revenge, not for the greater good of humanity or the Greek polis. While some scholars may argue that she is tempted to kill the children in order to give them an honorable death and not allow them to be mercilessly killed by the would-be vengeful Corinthians, these are not Medea’s only options. Though presented as a dichotomy (to kill them honorably or let them be killed dishonorably), there are other possibilities (such as escorting them into exile with her) that go unrealized.
 One would be remiss to view Aphrodite’s act, as a divine being, of impassioning Phaedra with an inappropriate love as a kind of Kierkegaardian temptation: a test that requires her to decide between what the deity compels her to do and what she knows is ethically and morally right. Given the entire scope of the tragedy, Phaedra is not the subject to be tested. The focus is not on Phaedra and her will, but rather Hippolytus and the consequences this love will have for him.
 See Rabinowitz.
 “If he keeps silent, ethics condemns him, for it says, ‘Thou shalt acknowledge the universal, and it is precisely by speaking thou dost acknowledge it, and thou must not have compassion upon the universal’" (Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling 120).
 It could be argued, however, that by constantly striving to preserve her good repute, she is indeed acting in the interest of her oikos. Rabinowitz suggests that female honor was associated with silence (36). She cites Pericles’s speech in Thucydides (2.45.2) which claims that women earn a good reputation by having no reputation at all; that is to say, that she provides no reason (good or bad) for others to talk about her.
 Again we see a seeming discrepancy in Kierkegaard’s treatment of aesthetics and silence. For while he castigates aesthetic silence as being cowardly and unethical, he writes that “in spite of the severity with which ethics requires revelation, it cannot be denied that secrecy and silence really make a man great precisely because they are characteristics of inwardness” (Fear and Trembling 97). It would seem then that an aesthetic foundation, an appreciation of inwardness, is needed before considering the external, the universal.
 As she later states, “Silence was my first plan. / Silence and concealment” (Greene lns 393-4).
 Kierkegaard notes in Either/Or that the characters of ancient tragedy showed a propensity for sorrow whereas modern tragic characters experienced pain. Sorrow reflects the hero’s re-cognition of and identification with a reality beyond his own personal existence.
 See Vernant and Vidal-Naquet 350 and 352 for a brief description of suppliancy as compared to xenia, hospitality. See Gould for a thorough discussion of the act of supplication as portrayed in Homeric epic as well as Euripidean tragedy.
 “Would you force confession, my hand-clasping suppliant?” (Greene ln 325).
 Aidos, particularly in relationship to Phaedra’s dichotomous use of it, constitutes much of the scholarship on Hippolytus. This word is often re-translated to mean various degrees of inhibition, shame, respect, self-restraint, conscience. For a thorough discussion on aidos in Hippolytus see Kovacs, and Furley.
 For a thorough discussion of Phaedra’s desire for honor, and how she, as a woman designated to the oikos, is ill-suited for such, see Rabinowitz. Moreover, Rabinowitz and other scholars question whether it is merely the protection of her potentially ruptured honor, or whether Phaedra seeks the kind of fame and glory that men may achieve in battle and in the polis.
 An interesting study could be done of Hippolytus as an ethical tragic hero for he too is faced with two opposing ethical systems. He must choose between keeping his own promise of silence regarding Phaedra’s improper affections or reveal the truth and thereby defend himself and his innocence to his father. Indeed, as Green observes, there is a large body of textual examples that focus on the father’s conduct, which could provide a backdrop for a Kierkegaardian exploration of Theseus as well: “Father-child themes abound, from the epigraph’s opening mention of Tarquinius Superbus’s secret message to his son, through the numerous tragic heroes whose conduct imperils their offspring, to the choice of Abraham” (275). Moreover, Hippolytus could be interpreted as an intellectual tragic hero, whose last words immortalize him before his death rather than the memory of his heroic deeds after his death (Kierkegaard Fear and Trembling 126). As Artemis proclaims, his memory shall be preserved in the marriage ritual by maidens preparing themselves for their rite of passage.
 It is important to consider, however, Racine’s own Jansenist beliefs, which maintained that though an individual may exhibit free will, her fate is ultimately predestined and no actions may alter that destiny.
 Consider Oenone’s keen interest in Phèdre’s silence at lines 185 (“If you must blush, blush for your silence”), 894 (“All I need is your silence to succeed”), and 1022 (“Reluctantly I lent her tears a voice”).
 It is important to note that, whereas in Euripides’s version an analysis of Hippolytus as an intellectual tragic hero could be undertaken given the import of his final words, this is not possible in Racine’s Phèdre. Hippolytus is not present again at the end of the tragedy; he is denied a final reconciliation with his father. Indeed, in Racine’s tragedy the focal point does not shift to Hippolytus’s relationship and resolution with his father, but rather maintains its concentration on Phèdre and the ethical implications of her secret passion.
 Compare Phèdre’s final acts with her self-conscious anxiety over ruling in Theseus’s stead: “I reign? I bring a State beneath my rule, / When reason reigns no longer over me; / When I have lost my self-domination; when / Beneath a shameful sway I scarcely breathe; / When I am dying?” (759-63).