Medea As A Heroine

In Euripides’ Medea, the main character of the same name is a controversial heroine. Medea takes whatever steps necessary to achieve what she believes is right and fair. She lived in a time when women were expected to sit in the shadows and take the hand that life dealt them without a blink of their eye. Medea took very radical steps to liberate herself and destroys the life of the man who ruined hers. She refused to accept the boundaries that a patriarchal society set upon her. Medea was a very wise and calculated woman who was brave enough to leave her homeland, along with everything she knew and loved, in order to follow her heart down the path of what she expected to be eternal happiness.

Medea, a princess and sorceress, was from a small island in the Black Sea called Colchis. She met her husband Jason when she used her powers to help him secure the Golden Fleece. It was during this time that she fell in love with him and decided to leave her family and home so that she could be with Jason. The fact that Medea was willing to leave all that she knew for Jason is very brave. Women in Medea’s time were normally given away to the men that they married. Medea, on the other hand, married Jason because she wanted to. That was a large risk for her to take and many women probably looked at it as a liberating and heroic act.

When Jason left Medea to marry Glauce, Medea was plagued with sadness and then with anger. The man she loved, the man that she gave up her life for, had betrayed her. In the patriarchal society that Medea lived in, it was not acceptable for a woman to protest any decision made by her husband. Medea went against all social standards and took revenge on Jason for the wrongs that he had committed. She was willing to take any chance and sacrifice even her most valued possessions. Medea knew that the best way to avenge the wrongs of Jason was to kill Glauce and the children. It was a huge sacrifice for Medea to kill the children that she loved, but she allowed herself to look past that love and only see her hate and contempt for Jason. Medea was willing to go against every rule that society set, so that her husband wouldn’t get away with leaving her for political reasons. Medea is once again a heroine.

If Medea were alive today, many people would not consider her a heroine. She found a way to satisfy her own needs, which were supposed to be secondary to her husband’s. Medea was a leader of women, and although the men may not have appreciated it, it was an act that was guaranteed to catch the attention of every oppressed woman alive at the time. Medea was a heroine ahead of her time.

Media: Character Analysis

Media was a very diverse character who possesses several characteristics which were unlike the average woman during her time. As a result of these characteristics she was treated differently by members of the society. Media was a different woman for several reasons; she possessed super natural powers , she was manipulative, vindictive, and she was driven by revenge. The life that Media lived and the situations she encountered, (one could say) were partly responsible for these characteristics and her actions.

Because Media was such a different woman people in her society were afraid of her, including men. As a result of this, before Jason, she never experienced being in love. When she finally experienced this type of love she went to no end for Jason. To protect Jason and her love for him she killed the beast guarding the Golden Fleece, she killed her brother, and she left her home, family and everything she knew for him. Most women would not have gone that far for love, especially women during her time; but Media was not your average woman. All of the things she did for Jason will come into play, and partly account for her actions at the end of the play.

Although Media killed and did things that people felt were wrong it is evident that through out the play that along with her other characteristics, she was a caring and loving person. The first time we are shown this is when we discover everything she did for Jason. If she did not love him she would not have done those things. We are also shown that Media can be a caring person by the love that she had for her children. Although she killed them in the end during the play she was a mother to her children, she showed affection to them, and she did think twice before she killed them. It is because Media was a caring and loving person that she did what she did. Her feelings were hurt and her heart was broken; and she did what she felt she had to do to hurt Jason for hurting her.

When Media Jason discovers Jasons plans to marry Creons daughter she was hurt deeply. But when Creon tells her that she was being exiled we see her hurt turn into vengeance. Because Media was a manipulative person she was only needed one day to plan and execute her plan to destroy Jason. Her plan was to leave Jason with nothing, the way she felt he left her. She killed his wife to be, her father and her children. Media killed everything Jason loved and everything that would a benefit to him to leave Jason with nothing.

She did all of these things, even killed her own children because she was hurt by love.
You must look at all of these things to explain Medias actions. Without knowing her background it would be very difficult to explain her extreme actions during this play. Its not enough to say her feelings were hurt and she lashed out, you have to look at, analyze, and breakdown, Medias life and experiences.

Medea: “Love and Deception”

There are many pieces of literature that may entail more than one theme throughout the story. The tragedy, Medea, by Euripides is very good example of this. Throughout this story, the themes of betrayal and love, revenge, and women’s rights arise. Euripides brings these points up to help the reader to realize that women are powerful also.

Betrayal is a very important theme throughout this story. Her husband Jason betrays Medea, when he abandons her and her children for another woman. Medea then realizes that Jason used her for her power and then dropped her when the chance to be more powerful arose. Medea’s nurse says:

“Jason has betrayed his sons and her,
takes the bed a royal bride,
Creon’s daughter-the king of Corinth’s.
Medea, spurned and desolate,
Breaks out in oaths,
Invokes the solemnest vows,
Calls on the gods to witness
How Jason has rewarded her. (P.19-26)

Jason left her for the princess of Corinth. Medea felt used and betrayed by the man that she was totally in love with. When Medea met Jason, he was on a voyage to possess the Golden Fleece. Medea goes against her father, her land, steals the Golden Fleece for Jason, commits murder, slows down her fathers army by killing her brother and laying out his body parts, all for the man she loved. And in returned, Jason betrays her for his own interest in power.

Revenge is another important theme in this tragedy. After Jason betrays Medea, her immediate response is revenge. Revenge on Jason for making a fool of her and leaving her and their children all alone. Jason has left Medea feeling lonely and heart broken. She wants Jason to feel the hurt and pain that she does. In revenge for what Jason has cause Medea to feel she kills his new bride and her father, an agonizing death of deadly poison. She then kills her own two sons. Medea is ashamed of what she has done to her sons, but does it to make Jason hurt the way she has. She says: Never again alive shall he see the sons he had by me, nor any child by this new bride of his poor girl, who has to die a wretched death, poisoned by me. (1.3.803-807)

Medea thinks that doing to Jason what he has done to her will make her feel better. She leaves Jason with no one. By killing her sons, there is no one left to carry on his name.

Euripides brings up the theme of women’s rights and the role of women is society. Euripides shows that not only men are powerful, but women are too. Medea is portrayed as a powerful, feared woman in Corinth. Creon is afraid of Medea; that is the reason for her banishment from Corinth. “Fear: no need to camouflage the fact,”(1.1.283-284).

This story teaches us many important moral lessons. As in many tragedies, these themes are exaggerated to get his point across clearly. All of these themes make up this Epic tale of Betrayal, deception, and women’s rights.

Comparing Odysseus and Medea

“Let me hear no smooth talk
of death from you, Odysseus, light of councils.
Better, I say, to break sod as a farm hand
for some poor country man, on iron rations,
than lord it over all the exhausted dead.”

Right before restless Odysseus leaves Circe, she tells him that he must go down into Hades to visit the shade of Teiresias, the blind prophet who advises Odysseus of his homecoming (the Wanderings). He then goes on to meet the shades of the queens and lovers of dead heroes and finally the heroes themselves. In the quotation cited, Odysseus is talking with Achilles, the greatest hero of the Trojan War. Achilles, while alive, was fully cognizant of his choice between a long life spent in obscurity or a short life, filled with glory. He chose the latter.

I suppose Achilles quickly realized after he died that fame has no meaning for you after you’re dead. In retrospect, he understood that death gives meaning, and fills one up with the passion for life. Every action, however mundane, is filled with the miracle of life and completes itself when one interacts with others. This is what Achilles meant when he asks Odysseus about his son and his former kingdom–never mind the dead, what are the living doing? Achilles yearns to be back among the living.

This theme of death giving meaning to life is prevalent throughout the Odyssey. Hell is death, heaven is now, in life, in the field of time and action.

Odysseus nearly died of homesickness (or boredom) when Kalypso detained him on her island, hoping to make him her immortal husband. Odysseus knew if he drank that ambrosia, life would be eternal, you’d have a beautiful house and a babe for a wife, but things would get terribly vapid after a certain point. Immortality is death, in this sense. Finally, it is Athena (thought, action) who convinces the gods (who are, I think, jealous of us mortals) to let Odysseus off the island and back into his life. It is interesting to note that even Hermes couldn’t wait to get off Kalypso’s island–“who would willingly come here? There is no city of men nearby. . . . .

Ultimately, Odysseus’ journey to Ithaka is about embracing one’s life, accepting the challenges, the dangers, pitfalls, and joys, with courage, tenacity and a keen sense of what it takes to maintain balance in one’s life. As the Odyssey suggests throughout, keeping balance in your life also reflects the macrocosm–the need for reciprocity, sacrifice, justice, love, etc. One must learn to keep one’s head in an unsure world (lotus eaters, Cyclops, Laistrygonians, etc.) And enjoy the journey home because the journey is the map of one’s life. It is best to be a breathing hero, in full possession of himself, than a dead one.

Home is Ithaka, a place of completion, the sound of a woman’s voice, the merging of male and female. Both Odysseus and Penelope carried the sound of each other’s voices in their heads for 20 years. When Odysseus came home, it was both an end and a beginning. Another beautiful challenge. Another journey, another homecoming to look forward to.

Medea, on the other hand, is a nightmare. Unlike Odysseus, she has been betrayed and will stop at nothing to destroy everything around her. Life holds no meaning for her, so she sets out to destroy everything precious belonging to the betrayer–fatuous Jason. In her irrationality, death or life have no meaning–they are simply tools used for vengeance.

In a sense, Odysseus and Medea are polar opposites: he maintains the balance between the micro/macrocosm, and Medea is self-absorbed, driven blindly by love, and myopic. She is forever the outsider, the exile who knowingly destroyed the chance of ever returning home, while Odysseus (representing society here) is the preserver, who sees and understands the forest, and is, by comparison, a glowing humanist next to Medea. If Odysseus can be looked upon as a metaphor for society (and everything included in it), then Medea can be seen as Nature, what happens when you upset the balance of that society.

Medea – Male and Female Perceptions of the World

Ask yourself this, Is this world biased against a particular gender? Do we mainly focus on women’s issues or men’s? What would your answer be? I bet most of you would say no, we aren’t biased at all. And, in many cases, that would be correct. But look at some of the other parts of the world where woman aren’t allowed a say, they aren’t allowed to put their point of view forward even in our own society. They aren’t allowed to know information until the male passes it on to them. This gap between women and men is widest in these areas. This type of treatment was happening at the times of the great ancient Greek playwrights such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and the controversial Euripides. Euripides play Medea explores these themes as well as many others.

Unlike today where women are usually regarded as important as men are, the ancient Greek men were ranked much higher than women in the hierarchy and therefore there was quite a gap between them. This meant that men were able to order women around and information was available to them before anybody else. Men were regarded as smarter than women so they were chosen to do special tasks while the women were left to be servants. But men didn’t seem to understand women much at all. Some men believed that they were just Poor women, Harping on trouble, where really they were doing things that would have helped themselves as well as the people around them.

Medea is expected to love Jason with all her heart, and she does. She is expected to take care of her children and do just about anything for Jason, and she does this too. But Medea is also expected to understand that Jason wishes to get married to another woman in order for him to gain the power that had always wanted. She doesn’t understand this at all. All Medea expects from Jason is for him to love her. When men have more power than women, they expect more understanding from women.

The play shows the views of both genders. The tutor, the messenger, Creon (king of Corinth), and Aegus (king of Athens) represent the male point of view. The nurse and the Chorus of Corinthian women represent the female point of view. Euripides intended to only have two voices representing the women to show that the women were less important than the men were. He has the views of a nurse, who is regarded as a servant, against the views of two kings, a teacher and a messenger. Who would people listen to? It would most likely be the men. They had more power being kings and educators. Who would listen to a servant who cant stop talking? In spite of all of this, Medea had more power than any of the other characters in the play. Why is this? She has the willpower and the passion for revenge. She doesn’t think of what could have been, she just gets out there and does it.

Medea is quite ahead of her time, she is almost ahead of our time too. Her ideas of speaking her mind and standing for her rights are things that some of us could only talk about today. Everybody thought she was out of her mind when she began her plan for revenge on Jason. If you were dumped, you were meant to take it and live with it. Retaliating like Medea did was something that wasn’t done at that time  that’s why nobody understood her actions.

But today, women will go to all sorts of lengths to get revenge on their ex-lover. Things such as letting their exs car tyres down each morning is a good example of this. Although Medea did a bit more than letting Jason’s tyres down (she killed Jason’s new wife, Jason’s new father-in-law, and her very own children), she still had the right to be angry. She stood for women’s rights and was one of the few fictional feminists of her time.

This gap was made by two totally different genders who have totally different views and who cant understand each other at all because of this. Medea reversed the gap. She made women equal to men.

Medea: Gender Roles

In Euripides Medea, the protagonist abandoned the gender roles of ancient Greek society. Medea defied perceptions of gender by exhibiting both “male” and “female” tendencies. She was able to detach herself from her “womanly” emotions at times and perform acts that society did not see women capable of doing. However, Medea did not fully abandon her role as a woman and did express many female emotions throughout the play.

In ancient Greek society, murder was not commonly associated with women. Throughout the play, however, Medea committed several acts of murder.

We learn that Medea has killed her brother. Medea does not have any guilt about planning and carrying out the murders of king Creon and his daughter Glauke. As the play develops, the reader realizes that Medea plans to commit infanticide.

I shall murder my children, these children of mine if die they must, I shall slay them, who gave them birth.(Euripides 207-213)

This contradicts societys view that women are the givers of life and that men take it away. It is especially unacceptable because she is the children’s mother. To kill a member of your family was frowned upon in ancient Greece, as it is today.

[Chorus] Think. You are stabbing your children. Think By your knees we entreat you, by all the world holds sacred, do not murder your children. (Euripides 208)

Medea displays extreme pride, which is stereotyped as a “male” characteristic. She is willing to sacrifice everything, including her children, to restore her reputation. It is a common belief that a woman’s weakness is her children, but this is not the case with Medea. Her sense of pride prevails over her maternal instincts.

Good-bye to my former plans I cannot do it. And yet what is the matter with me? Do I want to make myself a laughingstock by letting my enemies off scot-free? I must go through with itI do realize how terrible is the crime I am about , but passion overrules my resolutions Its worth the grief You could not hope, nor your princess either, to scorn my love, make a fool of me and live happily ever after. (Euripides 212-219)

Medea seeks vengeance with the same forceful determination to rectify the situation as a man would. A woman seeking revenge challenges societys view of women as weak and passive. Medea will go to great lengths to hurt Jason for the wrongs he has done to her.
[Chorus]You will slaughter them to avenge the dishonor of your bed betrayed[Medea]O children, your fathers sins have caused your death(Euripides 211-219)

Medea dwells in self-pity until contriving a scheme that will avenge her hurt. Wallowing in self contempt is generally a quality attributed to women by society. Medea is so unhappy with herself after her marriage with Jason ended that she wanted to die.

Oh! My grief! The misery of it all! Why can I not die?O misery! The things I have suffered!Oh! Would a flaming bolt from Heaven might pierce my brain! What is the good of living any longer? O misery! Let me give up this life I find so hateful. Let me seek lodging in the house of death It’s all over my friends; I would gladly die. Life has lost its savor Ah! Double destruction is my unhappy lot! The troubles are mine, I have no lack of troubles.(Euripides 192-197)

Medea also experiences the “female” emotion of jealousy. Medea is jealous of Glauke, the daughter of Creon. Jason has left Medea for Glauke, who is younger, royalty and accepted by society.

Your foreign wife was passing into an old age that did you little credit As you loiter outside here you are burning with longing for the girl who has just been made your wife(Euripides 202-203)

The common opinion among society is that women tend to use deceit and trickery to achieve their goals. Medea is no exception. Medea persuades Creon to allow her to stay one more day in Corinth on the pretense of preparing for exile, while in actuality Medea was planning the murders of her enemies and children.

Do you think I would have ever wheedled the king just now except to further my own plans? I would not even have spoken to him, nor touched him either He has allowed me this one day, in which I will make corpses of my enemies.(Euripides 198)

Medea defied society’s stereotypes of male and female characters. Throughout Euripides Medea the protagonist showed extreme emotions of both sexes. At times she was the ultimate woman, and others the ultimate man.

Medea vs. Antigone: Compare

The two Greek plays, Medea and Antigone both exhibit opening scenes that serve numerous purposes. Such as establishing loyalties, undermining assumptions on the part of the audience, foreshadowing the rest of the play, and outlining all of the issues. Medea and Antigone share many similarities in their openings.

Both plays begin with providing the audience with the history and the consequences of certain situations that the characters were involved in. It also brings the audience to the present time, in which the play occurs. This enables the audience to have a clear and refreshed image of what aspect of the legend the play emphasizes or if any alterations were made. In Medea, the nurse is the first character who enters the play and reminds the audience of the legend of the Golden Fleece, and the love between Jason and Medea, from beginning to the end.

She also brings them to the present state Medea is in, which is of complete despair and depression after Jason remarried. “And she hates her children now, and feels no joy at seeing them.” (Oates, 292). In Antigone, one of the purposes of the chorus is to provide history to the audience. Although, Sophocles did change the structure a little. The first to enter the play are Antigone and Ismene, who are engaging in conversation over defying the edict forbidding their brothers burial, which brings the audience to the present time.

Shortly after, the chorus enters and recounts the reasons for the battle and death of Polyneices and Eteocles, brothers to Antigone and Ismene. The chorus appears every scene to serve as the voice of the culture, and counsels to the characters. “Save those two of cruel fate, who, born of one sire and one mother, set against each other their twain conquering spears, and sharers in a common death.” (Oates, 192).

While the chorus and the nurse recount the background of the story they simultaneously set the mood of the play. Their speeches are expressed with such deep emotion that the audience can’t help but become involved. The nurse in Medea sets a very tense mood that remains throughout the whole play. “I fear she may contrive some untoward scheme; for her mood is dangerous nor will she brook her cruel treatment.” (Oates, 292).

Another similarity these two plays share is the defiance of the traditional role of women. The Greek culture was set in the role that women should take and it was rarely violated. Women were expected to take the submissive role and never question a superior male. Their voice was rarely heard and their opinions were insignificant, especially in society. As far as marriage went, women must buy their husbands with a dowry and it was necessary fro them to remain married, even if it was a bad marriage. Divorce was illegal for women, while a man could remarry if he chose to do so.

This defiance from the traditional role forces the audience to view their society from a different angle. These plays examine a woman who isn’t submissive and makes her own decision; based on her own values instead of he one’s society forces them to accept. Overall Antigone’s character was stubborn, angry, dogmatic, and she put her family and religious beliefs before the state. The opening conversation between Antigone and Ismene discusses Creon’s edict forbidding the burial of Polyneices.

Antigone confides in her sister that she plans to defy the order and asks for her help. Ismene reminds Antigone that they are women and not strong enough to defy the state. Antigone views the loyalty to her brother and the law of the gods above the state and will die for Polyneices burial. She is a woman ruled by instincts, emotions, and extreme pride. “I shall rest, a loved one with him whom I have loved, sinless in my crime; for I owe a longer allegiance to the dead than to the living But if thou wilt, be guilty of dishonoring laws which the gods have stablished in honour.” (Oates, 189).

Medea examines a female who also defies the traditional role. Medea is depicted as a violent, savage woman who will stop at nothing to seek harm to her enemies. She attacks the role of women in society and disagrees with the way women are treated as inferior. “And yet they say we live secure at home, while they are at the wars, with their sorry reasoning, for I would gladly take my stand in battle array three times o’er, than once give birth.” (Oates, 298).

Sophocles’ Antigone and Euripides Medea are two Greek plays that share many similarities. For example, the way the audience is informed of history and the defiance of the traditional role of women are only two. Thus, Greek tragedy has many reoccurring themes, which can be directly related to the society in which they were written.

Feminism in Medea

The play Medea by Euripides challenges the dominant views of femininity in the patriarchal society of the Greeks. While pursuing her ambition Medea disregards many of the feminine stereotypes/ characteristics of the patriarchal Greek society. She questions the inequality of women in a patriarchal society, contradicts Jason’s chauvinist beliefs, challenges the stereotype that women are weak and passive and completely disregards the feminine role of motherhood.

Feminism is the belief that women and men are, and have been, treated differently by society, and that women have frequently and systematically been unable to participate fully in all social arenas and institutions. This belief is confirmed in ancient Greece where the status of women was very low. Aristotle describes the relationship between men and women during that time period:

‘It is the best for all tame animals to be ruled by human beings. For this is how they are kept alive. In the same way, the relationship between the male and the female is by nature such that the male is higher, the female lower, that the male rules and the female is ruled.’ Aristotle, Politica, ed. Loeb Classical Library, 1254 b 10-14.

Plato ascribes the inferior status of women to degeneration from men:

“It is only males who are created directly by the gods and are given souls. Those who live rightly return to the stars, but those who are ‘cowards or [lead unrighteous lives] may with reason be supposed to have changed into the nature of women in the second generation’. This downward progress may continue through successive reincarnations unless reversed. In this situation, obviously it is only men who are complete human beings and can hope for ultimate fulfillment; the best a woman can hope for is to become a man” (Plato, Timaeus 90e).

In Greek society, a woman was confined within the parental home until a husband was chosen for her. Then she was transferred to the home of her husband where she was to fulfill her principal function, the bearing and rearing children.

Medea shows the inequality of women in Greek society. The betrayal of Medea by Jason through his marriage to another woman enrages Medea. She begins to question the role and position of women in a patriarchal society. “Are we women not the wretchedness? We scratch and save a dowry to buy a man…Our lives depends on how his lordship feels. For better for worse we can’t divorce him.”(p.8, Medea). However, “a husband tired of domesticity, Goes out sees friends and enjoys himself….”(p.8and 9, Medea). Medea compares the virtual slavery of women to the absolute freedom of men, showing the inequality and disempowerment of women in society at that time.

Jason’s chauvinist beliefs are put under the microscope. Jason airs his views about what all women want: “If they’re (women) happy in bed, they’re happy everywhere”. By comparing Medea’s pure feminism to Jason’s selfish chauvinism, Euripides brokers sympathy and support for feminism from the audience.

Medea questions the firmly held belief in Greek society that women are weak and passive. Wanting revenge on Jason for his betrayal of her, Medea must take control of the situation, a stereotypical masculine quality. Though she cannot become a man or take power like a man, she perceives her ability to take vengeance with the same kind of forceful determination that a man would demonstrate in her situation. “I’ll kill the children…Then, when all Jason’s hopes, his palace hopes, are gone I’ll leave this land”(p.27 Medea) She makes the ultimate sacrifice, her children’s lives, in order to decisively take control of her life and become independent of Jason, showing that she is neither weak nor passive. Medea challenges the feminine stereotypes of weakness and passiveness by taking control of her life.

Medea challenges society’s views of her matriarchal role in a patriarchal society. She is in a situation where she must struggle between her want for independence and her motherhood instincts: “My heart all dagger. Do it. Don’t flinch. You must. Come, hand: the sword. This course must run. No weakness. No…memories. Flesh of your flesh! Forget you loved them for one short day, forget. Then weep, wretch, weep, Who killed to prove your love.(p.42, Medea) Medea is forced to take drastic steps in order to achieve her feminist goals of freedom and independence.

She must kill her children and lose the sympathy of the audience. Earlier in the play the chorus, who reflect the dominant values and ideology of the time, agreed with her views on women being disempowered and how she was wronged by Jason:”…what you do is far from just: deserting her” (p.19,Medea). However, at this point in the play the chorus no longer sympathizes with Medea and her actions and actually plead with her: “On our knees we beg you- think again. Your children must not die.”(p.29, Medea).

This reveals the most significant part of the play in which the audience, who instead of supporting Medea now are shocked and disgraced by her. The loss of sympathy for Medea because of her plans of infanticide is a tool showing that the matriarchal stereotype of women is a belief that is still firmly held by society. The ‘motherhood’ and ‘nurturing’ role are both characteristics concerning femininity that Medea out rightly disregards when she kills her children.

Medea’s questions the inequality of women in a patriarchal society, contradicts Jason’s chauvinist beliefs, challenges the stereotype that women are weak and passive and completely disregards the feminine role of motherhood. In society today many people believe Medea to be a pioneer of feminism, even though her society/chorus scorns Medea after she killed her children. Medea still reveals many good and relevant stereotypes, such as the ‘motherhood’ and ‘nurturing’ roles that women still object to and fight against today.

Medea Vs. Hedda Gabbler

Medea and Hedda Gabbler are two different plays, yet both have very similar motives in the end. Both women seek to control the destiny of the men in their lives. The reasons are not by the decision of either women, but by the hands of Fate, something out of their control. Both women are respectively different, with different degrees of action and success. Two women needing to control destiny bring two very different motives together.

Medea and Hedda have two very different reasons for desiring control over the destiny of their mens lives. Medeas desire for control over Jason, and the subsequent death of her children, is spawned by her unfair treatment and spurning by Jason, where as Hedda has very different reasons. Hedda has not been scorned by any one person really, but she is stuck in a mans world, as a woman, where she has absolutely no control, marking her desire to control the destiny of Eilert Lovborg. Medea is pushed by the force of fate, as if she has no control over her actions.

She is a strong willed woman, doing what she must, coming out as the victor in the end. Hedda, however, comes out quite differently. Heddas fear of scandal really prevents her from having any strong hold on the situation that will turn out successfully. This is proven in the end when Hedda commits suicide-she has lost control and is not strong enough to handle the ensuing scandal. Although out of the two actions, the worst seems to be Medeas, it is also Medeas actions that merit the most excuse as defense. She was having everything taken away from her, and she could not stop it, so she took the only action possible to make Jason understand how he had wronged her. Medea and Hedda, different in motive, actually are not all that different in their nature.

Medea and Hedda come from very different backgrounds, yet the way that they were raised can be compared with many similarities. Both Medea and Hedda were not raised as the proper woman should be, but rather, as women who are different, the exceptions. They each have been raised strong willed and independent, able to think by themselves and fight their own battles. The flaw, it seems, is that in both cases, they live in a mans world, a place that does not allow for their independence. Medea most definitely proves to be the stronger of the two, as she is victorious in her plight, killing her own children, a heart rendering decision for a mother.

Hedda, however, is weak, mostly based on her fear of scandal. She kills herself in the end, to avoid scandal and leading a life that did not suit her. As for the quote, the line that sums up the situations of both Medea and Hedda is, Nature forces each to violence as the only means of escape. Such is explained by the womens wills and characters, neither were able to live unless they had made some profound effect on others and gained a certain respect in doing so. Both are dreadfully out of place in their societies, their flaws and nature itself driving them to horrible violence.

In both cases, the men greatly fail to live up to the standards of the womens expectations. It seems, that Jason, however, is the most shameful of the two. It is Jason who abandons Medea after she loves him and gives him her all, and then her proceeds to have her driven from town, along with their sons. Jasons actions are pure cowardice and fear of Medea, but even sadder yet is that he is blind to all of the pain and misfortune he has caused.

Jason, unlike Eilert Lovborg, is spared his life, so that he may eventually see the consequences of his actions. The fate of both are rather on the pathetic side, but more so is that of Jason. It is Jason that must live with his mistakes, Jason that will be forever scorned and looked upon as a sort of plague on any household. At least Eilert Lovborg had the escape of death, though not really by his choice. Eilert will not have to face people after his shameful night with Tesman and Brack.

The chorus of Medea, performed by the women of Corinth, can be compared to the roles of Judge Brack and Aunt Julia in Hedda Gabbler. Brack and Aunt Julia serve to give explanations of sort to certain actions and consequences and vent certain worries to the audience that otherwise may not be apparent. They are a very limited chorus in the fact that they cannot be ever present on the stage with Hedda to explain her actions. Both of the characters interpret Hedda in different ways. Aunt Julia sees Hedda as a delicate woman, but although she does bot come out and say it, she views Hedda almost as stuck up in a way, especially after the bonnet incident.

Judge Brack, on the other hand, sees Hedda as normal woman who should be doing woman things, despite the fascination he sees with her and guns. Brack serves his purpose to outline her fear of scandal, especially when he threatens her with one that she has created and he can take advantage of.

Oscar Wildes famous line, Yet each man kills the thing he loves, illustrates much about Medea and Hedda. Medea is the most outstanding example of the quote, however, as even after she has taken the action of killing her sons, she continues to love Jason and wreak havoc upon his life. He is basically a condemned man, the cause of evil wherever he goes henceforth.

All this Jason has brought upon himself through Medeas anger towards him and his ignorant actions. Hedda, on the other hand, simply is bored with her life. She has no entertainment, she is not a normal woman. Therefore she singles out Eilert Lovborg and seeks to control his destiny by helping him along the lines to death. If at one point she did ever love him, it is not very apparent in the manner that she persists in making him suffer.

Plato & Medea

In ancient Greece women were viewed as many things. They were not viewed as equivalent to males by any means. Women were portrayed usually as submissive domestic, and controlled. They played supporting or secondary roles in life to men, who tended to be demanding of their wives, but expected them to adhere to their wishes. In the tragedy Medea, written by Euripides, Medea plays the major role in this story, unlike most Greek stories with women playing only minor roles, but she also demonstrates many behavioral and psychological patterns unlike any other Greek women. In Euripides Medea the main character, Medea, Displays many traits that breakdown traditional Athenian misogyny by displaying her as proactive in taking her revenge, having cruel and savage passions, and being a very manipulative women.

Medea shows herself to be a proactive, determined woman who is ready to do what she has been planning throughout the story. In the begging of the book she starts to threaten revenge on her husband, Jason, If I can find the means or devise to pay my husband back for what he has done to me(pg 9). Medea is just touching on her anger that she has built up within her for her husband. The traditional Athenian women would be mourning the loss of her husband, and may feel angry with him but would never swear to revenge him for his doings, and lastly actually do them. Women are usually portrayed in this situation being so dependent on their husbands that they will still do anything for him as so he will continue to help support the children and possibly his ex-wife.

Medea when she decides it is time for her to kill her children struggles with the idea for a minute, do not be a coward, do not think of them, and how you are their motherOh I am an unhappy women.(Pg 40). This is how a traditional Athenian woman would think, but she would be unable to commit to her plans and kill her own children. Medea on the other hand lets her passion and hatred for Jason take over her reasonable and straight thinking self, as she kills her own children while listening to them pray to God for help.

Medeas cruel and savage passions take overtake her reasoning as the story proceeds. Medeas views differ of that of the traditional Athenian women in that, Medea believes that women, though most helpless in doing good deeds, are of every evil the cleverest contrives. She is the opposite of how women are portrayed and this just shows how Medeas thoughts and actions break down Athenian misogyny. After talking to Aegeus, Medea contrives her plan. For I will send the children with gifts in their hands to carry to the bride and when she puts them on, she and all who touch her will dies form the poison I will lay on them.(pg 26). Not only does Medea concoct a horrific plan, but also she decides to use her children as messengers of death. Then she will kill her own child to protect them form being killed by a mob and also to put a final stake though Jasons heart, as the kids are his only true love. Medeas plan further demonstrates how she breaks down all views of a traditional Athenian woman.

Medea also demonstrates how she has cruel and savage passions, unlike Athenian women are traditionally portrayed. Not only does Medea say how women are helpless but she how they are defenseless, but that is the average woman not Medea. Medea is the not defenseless, but rather one to be defended from. Nearing the conclusion of this tragedy Medea displays her cruelty and savagery in full force as Jason says, You loved them, and killed them. Medea response, To make you feel pain. Medeas passion and anger have taken total control in this confrontation with Jason. Not only does she say she killed her children to make Jason feel worse, but she shows no remorse for killing her only two children.

Medea truly demonstrates how much she breaks down the Athenian misogyny throughout this final scene as she becomes possessed by her passions and takes action, without any signs of remorse.

Medea is a manipulative woman who uses her intelligence and foresight to set her plan up perfectly for the future. When Medea is confronted by King Creon she acts as a traditional women would, by pleading for her childrens help and agreeing to what the superior man has told her to do. But once he leaves, she reveals that she was manipulating him by seeming harmless so that she could have an extra day in town to put her plan to work.

Next when Jason arrives for the second time she apologizes for her earlier actions and says that she was wrong. This time she says to Jason how she want best for their children as well, so she will send them bearing her most precious garments to give to the princess. As this is occurring again, Medea appears to be the traditional Athenian women, but underneath she is using this as a façade to her really feelings, so as she can perform her wicked acts of cruelty to the princess, Jason, and in turn her children. Medea has learned to use the Athenian misogyny to her advantage; by pretending she fits into it perfectly while in fact she could not oppose it much more.

Euripides character of Medea, breaks down the rules set for Athenian women with her ability to take action, her ill-willed passions, and her manipulative ways. Her well planned out strategy for revenge would have been impossible for any woman if woman were how the Greeks portrayed them in all sets of life. Medea rejects the thought of woman being inferior of all parts of the body and mind. Her use of how women were regarded and thought of by all Greek men, enabled her to achieve her plan and ultimately kill the queen, her children, a make her husbands future and happiness more bleak than that of her own.

Medea was able to go through with her revenge because, as she became possessed by her passions for revenge and her cruel and spiteful mindset. Medea was a clever woman, and used others ignorance as a means to obtain her goal, and in turn she has broken down how Athenian women were viewed by their counterparts, men.

Medea: A Civilized Barbarian

The term “Barbarian” is Greek in origin. The Greeks originally levied it at any races who were not of a Greek origin; especially those who threatened Greek civilization and culture. Because most of these “strangers” regularly assaulted Greek cities, the term “barbarian” gradually evolved into a rude term: a person who was a sub-human, uncivilized, and regularly practiced the most vile and inhuman acts imaginable. It is obvious that a barbarian has not been considered as a member of society as well as a woman in Ancient Greece. In many Greek tragedies that we have read women either play a secondary role or absent at all. That is why it is so unusual to read a tragedy where woman is a main character and not only that a woman is a foreigner, a barbarian.

Euripidess Medea was created in a period of Peloponesian War. Each war, regardless of the century it occurred, not only destroyed and killed but also caused the reappraisal of the values in the society. Literature, in Ancient Greece, used to be a main reflection of what the society thinks what values and rules it has and what impact the war had on peoples minds.

Obviously, the Peloponesian War has brought a lot of stress and chaos into the society, so during this time some poets have foreseen the intellectual revolution. Euripides, however, was the first one who created the play where he opposed a barbarian to someone civilized; he has his Medea confront Jason. The civilized Jason is more barbaric in his emotional callousness than the barbarian Medea, but by the end of the play she exacts a barbaric penalty.

The Nurse calls Medea a “strange woman.” She is anything but typical. Euripides admits from the outset that this is a bizarre tale of an exceptional human being.

Lest she may sharpen a sword an thrust to the heart,
Stealing into the palace where the bed is made,
Or even kill the king and the new-wedded groom,
And thus bring a greater misfortune on herself.

Two great pains tear Medea: the betrayal of Jason and her betrayal of her country and family (and consequent exile). The two are interwoven and double her sorrow. Guilt, loneliness, rejection, love, all war within her.

Ah, I have suffered
What should be wept for bitterly. I hate you,
Children of a hateful mother. I curse you
And your father. Let the whole house crash.

Of course Medea is barbarian, she came from a different country, she is violent and everyone knows that she posses the unique and in somewhat supernatural power that can make people to do things her way. These characteristics correspond to the definition of barbarian in the Ancient Greece. On the other hand, we realize that the part of her power is her intellect, which is not barbarians own distinctive feature. People, including the king, are afraid of Medea.

Kreon:
I am afraid of you, – why should I dissemble it? –
I believe their fear is based not only on the fact that she has a great passion and able to do something terrible, but also on the fact that people start to realize that a barbarian is a human who can think, who has emotions and feelings and, moreover, who can take control over them. Another factor that scares people is her being a woman. In Ancient Greece women had not had a political power; their voices have never been heard. Medeas voice is not only can be heard, but also her speeches are manipulative. She is able to use any rhetoric speech that appeals to the emotions of the people. Medea provokes a passion in them in response to her own.

Kreon:
You are a clever woman, versed in evil arts,
And are angry at having lost your husbands love.

Medea is smart, she is greatly aware of being a “foreigner” and the Corinthians seem to echo that awareness; she understands why she is not welcomed in the society, she realizes that she has to leave, but her emotional pain makes her to do unthinkable.

Pain is often the source of anger and then violence. That progression is one of Euripides’ main themes. “Great people’s tempers are terrible.” The greatness of the temper is one measure of the greatness of the person who is angry. Medeas passion causes human tragedy. Medea also understands that her passion and anger is based on the betrayal. Jason did not keep his word, he has broken the oath and this was unacceptable for Medea. At the same time, she realizes that in the Greek society people are more materialistic and ideas of love and faithfulness are seem to be barbaric and silly.

Jason:
Change your ideas of what you want, and show more sense.

Medeas primitive passion is pitted against the civilized demands of a Jason. He is empty inside, he has no emotions, no passion; the only thing that he has is the desire. The desire to stabilize his political position. He used Medea for his own good: she helped him to escape and to survive. Right now it is the time for Jason to move on with his life; he doesnt need Medea any more. Moreover, in some way he thinks he helped Medea and she should be thankful for that.

Jason:
In so far as you helped me, you did well enough.
But on this question of saving me, I can prove
You have certainly got from me more than you gave.

Jason, as he thinks, lives by the law instead of the sweet will of force. But what is the law? Who has it been written for? In Ancient Greece all the laws were written for the men, who used to have the political power. Jason is a perfect example of a representative of this society. He even admits, that women are the unnecessary creatures. They are needed only for producing children.

Jason:
It would be better far for men
To have got their children in some other way, and women
Not to have existed. Then life would have been good .

Medea wants to make Jason suffer by making him listen, but for Jason her argument is invalid. I think Medea is trying to prove that the society, in which money and ones political position are two things that matter, will not have any future. There are some other things, such as love, dedication and ability to keep your word, that are needed in the society for its success. In this sense Medeas ideas are more civilized than Jasons emotionless and a blind desire for a power. As I mentioned earlier, these Medeas ideas are not valid in the Greek society, so she plays her barbaric game until the very end of the play. Lessons are learned and tables are turned. The oppressor cannot oppress forever.

“Medea” by Euripides: Jason and Medea

In Medea, by Euripides, the two main characters Jason and Medea are forced to leave Lolkos and have taken refuge in Corinth. Jason has the possibility of establishing a position of standing in the community by marrying King Creons daughter. Medea is enraged by Jasons betrayal of her and their two children and she vows to stop the marriage and exact revenge. In the play, Medea and Jason are set up as foils. Medea is completely dependent on the dominance of passion over reason. She is depicted as conniving, brilliant and powerful. In contrast, Jason is portrayed as a a character of little feeling; he is passionless, obtuse, witless, and weak.

Medea first enters the play and greets the women of the chorus. The chorus has just witnessed her wild lamentations, where she prayed for death and threatened to avenge herself on Jason and his new wife. Medea proceeds to tell the chorus about Jasons betrayal and her own humiliation. She explains how heartbroken she is and the difficulties of being exiled in a city were she knows no one. She has no family or friends in Corinth and has been completely dependent on Jason. She laments the gloomy despair into which she has fallen.

During this exchange she reveals to the chorus that she intends to devise a plan to break up the marriage and seek revenge against Jason. She explains that while most women would not stand up to for themselves, she will not remain defenseless: but, when once she is wronged in the matter of love, No other soul can hold so many thoughts of blood. In this scene Medea is not speaking calmly or reasonably. She is undoubtable distraught, and her thoughts and actions are being controlled by her hatred. The emotionally irrational elements of Medeas character are exhibited through her inability to control her passion , consequently leading her to vengeance.

Later in the play Jason does the reasonable thing and tries to reconcile the problems with Medea. He is obviously not aware that he has done anything wrong. He feels he has merely done what any man in his place would do. Through his marriage to the princess he is now the the heir to the throne of Corinth, which is ultimately something that will benefit Medea and her children. He wants to regain status for his family and give his children to opportunity to have royal lineage. Jasons plan is to achieve a better life for himself and bring his children out of poverty. All of this would eventually benefit Medea, and he does not understand why Medea can not see things his way.

His contention is that his plan would have worked out perfectly if Medea had only acted sensibly. He blames her for crying out for justice and for making threats against the royal family. If she had not threatened Creon and his daughter, Medea would not be facing exile. Because of Medeas threats, Creons animosity spreads to the children and he insists that they all be sent away. Through their entire conversation Jason does not permit himself to be controlled by passion.

He keeps his head clear and simply lays down the facts. It is not like him to let his feeling free play like Medea does. He is there to offer her money and a tell her about her place of exile. He explains that it will be painful to see his children go, but Medea alone is to blame for that. When she refuses his offer of money, Jason calls to the gods to to witness that he has tried to help and absolves himself of any responsibility he may have had for Medea and the boys.

Medea loses her temper completely in response to Jasons smug summary of the events: Oh coward in every way that is what I call you, with bitterness reproach for your lack of manliness….it is worst of all human disease, shamelessness. Medea reminds Jason of everything she has done for him, how she betrayed her own father and family and and followed him to Corinth. Now he has taken on a new wife and deserted their two children. She is enraged that she has given up everything for him and still it does not bother him that they have been exiled and basically condemned to a life of begging and poverty. Medea refuses to accept Jasons money saying that there is no benefit in the gifts of a bad man. Jason leaves and Medea calls after him to go to his wench.

This scene shows the absolute opposing personalities of these two characters. Throughout the entire scene Jason shows no passion, he is not there because he is big hearted.

Instead, he is there because Creon has granted her one more day in Corinth and offering her money for her exile is the appropriate thing to do. However, Medea on the other hand is consumed with rage, she is obsessed by vengeance and refuses to look at things rationally. At this point her and her children’s future is uncertain and if she is to be exiled she will need money. But Medea cannot see things this way, she is aroused into a frenzy of hatred and passion, a combination which makes her incapable of being sensible.

As the play continues on, Medea moves forward with her scheme against Jason. She talks to Aegeus and works out a plan where she is guaranteed asylum in Athens after she kills Jason and the Princess. With her future secure Medea discloses the steps of her plan. She will ask Jason to convince the princess to let the children remain in Corinth. With that, Medea will send the children to the palace with gifts. One gift a beautiful frock, embedded with poison. When the princess puts it on, the poison will eat her alive. Whoever attempts to take off the gown will themselves be killed by the acid. This will destroy the princess father as well.

Next comes the most savage part of Medeas plan. After killing the king and princess she will perpetrate the most heinous crime of all, she intended to kill her children. She admits that it will be difficult because she loves them, but it is more important to see Jason suffer. Medea will stop at nothing to ensure that Jason remains miserable until his dying day.
The chorus tries to persuade her to reconsider her plan, but Medeas responds with: So it must be. No compromise is possible.

In the scene where Medea is asking Jason to get the children pardoned we see another perfect example of the two characters opposing personalities. Medea pretends to be submissive and she begs for Jasons forgiveness. She is using her intelligence as a weapon against him. She humbles herself to him and tricks him into believing she is sincere. She plays upon his trust and feeble mindedness and use flattery to convinces him to obtain permission for the children to live in the palace at Corinth. Jason is too oblivious to even be suspicious of Medea. Medea is calculated and powerful, while Jason appears clue less and weak.

Medeas plan also reveals her passionate intensity to exact revenge. It is not enough that Jason have to deal with the death of his new wife and father, she insists that he incur the deaths of his children as well. Her passion drives her to the point of savagery, her obsession overcomes any love that she holds for her children.

The death of her children was part of her plan of vengeance that was meant to pierce Jason in the heart. But towards the end of the play Medea becomes torn between her love for her children and her hatred of Jason. She sends her children away because she cant not look at them anymore is she plans to maintain her vengeful anger. At first Medea feels she can not do this foul deed and she plans to take her children with her to Athens: Ah, what is wrong with me? Do I want to let go my enemies unhurt and be laughed at for it? I must face this thing. Oh, but what a weak women even to admit to my mind these soft arrangement. For a brief moment she cannot decide what she should do. In the end she will suppress any maternal love she has for her children and kill the two boys: I know indeed what evils I intend to do, But stronger then all my after thoughts is my fury, fury that brings upon mortals the greatest evil.

At the conclusion of the play Medeas plan finally comes to fruition. Both the princess and the king die from the poisonous garments. Jason rushes to Medea in attempt to save the children from royal vengeance, but he is too late. When he arrives at the house the chorus informs him of what has happened and that his children are dead at the hands of their mother. Above the roof of the house a flying chariot appears with Medea and the bodies of the two children. Jason begs Medea to let him have the bodies so he can bury and mourn to them, but she refuses. He begs her to let him kiss them one last time, but of course she will not. Jason is left weeping and groaning, while Medea rides off triumphant. She will bury her children at Heras temple on the prometory and then fly to her sanctuary in Athens.

In the final scene of the play Jason is once again cast as Medeas foil. Throughout the entire play he has been clue less as to what she is capable of. At the end Medea is portrayed in a almost mystical aura, she is victorious and powerful. She is in control of everything and she has successfully accomplished what she set out to do. The king and princess are both dead, and Jason will live out his dying days in misery. Jason remains completely powerless at the hands of Medea, all he can to is beg for his children and plead with the Gods to punish Medea: Oh God do you hear it, this persecution, these my suffering from a hateful women, this monster, murderess of children? Still what I can do that I will do: I will lament and cry upon heaven, calling the gods to bear my witness how you have killed my boys and prevent me from touching their bodies of giving them burial. Jason is portrayed as helpless against Medea.

Medea is a strong proud women, she is dominated by her passion and her refusal to submit to injustice. Despite her unrestrained emotions she remains calculated and controlling. Medea is lead by her heart and by her passion. Her husband Jason is the complete antithesis of Medea, he is her opposite and foil. Throughout the play he is depicted as passionless and weak. He uses pure logic to guide his every decision. He is void of most worthy qualities. Medea embodies strength, intelligence and passion, while Jason represents weakness and feeble mindedness.

Medea’s Revenge

Medea, a play by the Greek playwright Euripides, explores the Greek-barbarian dichotomy through the character of Medea, a princess from the”barbarian”, or non-Greek, land of Colchis. Throughout the play, it become sevident to the reader that Medea is no ordinary woman by Greek standards.Central to the whole plot is Medea’s barbarian origins and how they are related to her actions. In this paper, I am attempting to answer questions such as how Medea behaves like a female, how she acts heroically from a male point of view,why she killed her children, if she could have achieved her goal without killing them, if the murder was motivated by her barbarian origins, and how she deals with the pain of killing her children.

As an introduction to the play, the status of women in Greek society should be briefly discussed. In general, women had very few rights. In the eyes of men, the main purposes of women in Greek society were to do house work such as cooking and cleaning, and bear children. They could not vote, own property, or choose a husband, and had to be represented by men in all legal proceedings. In some ways, these Greek women were almost like slaves. There is a definite relationship between this subordination of women and what transpires in the play. Jason decides that he wants to divorce Medea and marry the princess of Corinth, casting Medea aside as if they had never been married.

This sort of activity was acceptable by Greek standards, and shows the subordinate status of the woman, who had no say in any matter like this. Even though some of Medea’s actions were not typical of the average Greek woman, she still had attitudes and emotions common among women. For instance, Medea speaks out against women’s status in society, proclaiming that they have no choice of whom to marry, and that a man can rid themselves of a woman to get another whenever he wants, but a woman always has to “keep [her]eyes on one alone.” (231-247)

Though it is improbable that women went around openly saying things of this nature, it is likely that this attitude was shared by most or all Greek women. Later in the play, Medea debates with herself over whether or not to kill her children: “Poor heart, let them go, have pity upon the children.” (1057). This shows Medea’s motherly instincts in that she cares about her children. She struggles to decide if she can accomplish her goal of revenge against Jason without killing her children because she cares for them and knows they had no part in what their father did.

Unfortunately, Medea’s desire to exact revenge on Jason is greater than her love for her children, and at the end of the play she kills them. Medea was also a faithful wife to Jason.She talks about how she helped Jason in his quest for the Golden Fleece, then helped him escape, even killing her own brother. (476-483). The fact that she was willing to betray her own family to be with Jason shows her loyalty to him.Therefore, her anger at Jason over him divorcing her is understandable. On the other hand, Medea shows some heroic qualities that were not common among Greek women.

For example, Medea is willing to kill her own brother to be with Jason. In classical Greece, women and killing were probably not commonly linked. When she kills her brother, she shows that she is willing to do what is necessary to “get the job done”, in this case, to be with Jason.Secondly, she shows the courage to stand up to Jason. She believes that she has been cheated and betrayed by him. By planning ways to get back at him for cheating on her, she is standing up for what she believes, which in this case is that she was wronged by Jason, but in a larger sense, she is speaking out against the inferior status of women, which effectively allows Jason to discard Medea at will.

Third, she shows that she is clever and resourceful. Rather than use physical force to accomplish her plans, she uses her mind instead: “it is best to…make away with them by poison.” (384-385) While physical strength can be considered a heroic quality, cleverness can be as well. She does in fact poison the princess and the king of Corinth; interestingly, however, she does not poison them directly. “I will send the children with gifts…to the bride…and if she wears them upon her skin…she will die.” (784-788) This shows her cleverness because she is trying to keep from being linked to the crime, though everyone is able to figure out that she was responsible anyway.

In a way, though, she is almost anti-heroic because she is not doing the “dirty work” herself, which makes her appear somewhat cowardly. Finally, there is the revenge factor. Many times heroes were out for revenge against someone who did them or a friend wrong, and in this case Medea is no exception, since she wants to have revenge against Jason for divorcing her without just cause. There are two main reasons why Medea decides to kill her children. The first, and more obvious one, is that she feels that it is a perfect way to complement the death of the princess in getting revenge on Jason. When she tells the chorus of the plans to kill the children, they wonder if she has the heart to kill her children, to which she replies, “[y]es, for this is the best way to wound my husband.” (817).

This shows that she believes that by killing her children, she will basically ruin Jason’s life, effectively getting her revenge. The second reason for Medea killing her children has nothing to do with revenge. If she left her children with Jason, they would be living in a society that would look down upon them since they have partly barbarian origins.She did not want her children to have to suffer through that. Also, if her children are mocked for being outsiders, then this reflects badly on Medea, and she said that she does not want to give her enemies any reason to laugh at her.(781-782)

Since she does not want to leave her children with Jason, they really have no place else to where they could go, being barbarians in a Greek city:”[m]y children, there is none who can give them safety.” (793) For these two reasons, Medea decides that killing her children is the best way to accomplish her plan: getting revenge and keeping her children away from Jason. Whether or not Medea could have accomplished her goal without killing her children is debatable. On one hand, if we look at Medea’s objective only as seeking revenge against Jason, then she could have accomplished that without killing her children.

Killing the princess, Jason’s new wife, would cause enough grief for Jason so that her goal would be accomplished. We can infer that the death of Jason’s wife would be more damaging to him than the deaths of his children because Jason was going to let Medea take the children with her in to exile and did not try to keep them for himself. Therefore, once the princess was dead, killing the children, while it causes additional grief for Jason, really is not necessary. Even though Medea does not seem to believe it, killing her children probably causes more pain for her than Jason.

She just does not see it because she is so bent on revenge against Jason. On the other hand, if we define Medea’s objective in two parts, one being revenge, and the other to keep the children away, then it is possible that she had to kill her children. As for the revenge part, it was not necessary that she kill her children for the reasons just discussed. However, she may have needed to kill them to keep Jason from getting them. If Jason decided he wanted his children,there is not much Medea could do about it, other than kill them. Also, it is possible that she did not want to take them with her into exile because they could make it more difficult for her to reach Athens.

For whatever the reason,however, it is probable that she needed to kill her children to carry out her plan, since she accomplished two different goals through their deaths. The murder of Medea’s children is certainly caused in part by her barbarian origins. The main reason that Jason decides to divorce Medea to marry the princess is that he will have a higher status and more material wealth being married to the king’s daughter. (553-554) In other words, Jason believes that Medea’s barbarian origins are a burden to him, because there is a stigma attached to that. In his mind, having the chance to be rich outweighs the love of a barbarian wife.

Medea’s barbarian status is a burden to herself as well.Once separated from Jason, she becomes an outsider with no place to go, because the barbarians were not thought too highly of in Greek society. Had Medea not been a barbarian, it is likely that Jason would not have divorced her, and therefore, she would not have had to kill her children. But since she is a barbarian, this sets in motion the events of the play, and in her mind the best course of action is to kill her children. Just because she is non-Greek does not necessarily mean that her way of thinking would be different from the Greeks; in other words, her way of thinking did not necessarily cause her to kill her children.

Medea deals with the pain that the deaths of her children cause her quite well. She does this by convincing herself that her revenge against her husband was worth the price of her children’s death. When asked about killing her children, she replies, “So it must be. No compromise is possible.” (819)This shows that she is bent on revenge, and that she is justifying their deaths to get her revenge. However, she does struggle with her decision to kill them.She is sad that she must take their lives, but also tells herself that it is in their best interests, as evidenced by what she says to her children: “I wish you happiness, but not in this world.” (1073)

She does not seem to have a problem with killing her children once it comes time to actually carry out the act. Buther motherly instincts will not allow her to totally abandon her children after they are dead, as she decides to hold a yearly feast and sacrifice at their burial site. (1383-1384) But in the end, we can see that she dealt with the pain surprisingly well. Two main themes are present in Medea: Medea’s barbarian origins, and her desire for revenge against Jason. Her barbarian status is really what starts the actions of the play.

It is what makes her a less desirable wife to Jason than the princess, and causes him to leave her. This then leads to her thoughts of revenge against Jason, and her decision to kill her children as away to exact that revenge. As far as revenge goes, Medea is heroic in that she is standing up against an evil done to her. Throughout most of the play, she spends her time plotting her revenge against Jason, waiting until the right moment to unleash her plan. She uses her cleverness to trick Jason and the others into believing that she was not upset with him. In the end, we can see that Medea’s barbarian origins were a major factor in the play, and that Medea was no ordinary woman in Greek terms.

Medea: Study Guide

Authorial information

Euripedes lived from ca. 485 to ca. 406 B.C. making him younger thank Aeschylus and Sophocles, and making him the last of the great writers of tragedy in the golden age of Athens. His emphasis on human emotions and the psychology of individuals has proven more widely popular than philosophical beliefs shown in his older contemporary works. Medea, first produced in 431 B.C., features strong dramatic situations and is focused on the heroine Medea. Medea’s attitude of feminine pride and is a contradiction of tradition.

Author’s unique style

Euripedes was a revolutionary during his time, portraying women in a light never before seen in literature. He preferred to dignify women and show men as the villains. Euripedes also used the factor of the women’s role to show the weakness in humans and their believe systems. He would use the common people as characters rather then heroes, as shown in most epics.

Euripedes preferred situations that showed characters torn between conflicting desires. For instance in Medea, the plot to kill Medea’s two children attracts mixed feelings. Her great love for her sons causes her to question, which is greater, revenge or love. The violent obsessions prevail though, bringing the death of her sons and her acquiring revenge upon her husband.

Setting

Medea was based in 5th century B.C. Greece during an age when women were seen as inferior to men. Yet Medea is portrayed as the heroine and the as being more clever then the two male characters, Creon and Jason.

The story of Medea takes place in Corinth, in front on Medea’s house. Though many events do take place in other regions of the city, we only obtain knowledge of them through hearsay. Euripedes used this tool in theaters for the audience to visualize the actions instead of cheapening the experience with the few special affects available to them.

Theme

Medea had one obvious theme; hell hath no fury like that of a woman’s scorn. It is apparent from the opening statement of the Nurse that Medea is a very heartless towards anyone who has crossed her. Once Jason’s betrayal is exposed to Medea, she immediately starts to thinks of in a murderous mentality toward Jason. She goes through any means necessary to hurt Jason.

Characters

Medea was born under king Aetees of Colchis as a witch-princess. As a youth she met Jason the Argonaut and fell instantly in love, as was planned by the gods. This drove her to betray her family and homeland of Colchis by aiding Jason in the retrieval of the Golden Fleece. After this she was forced to leave with Jason, who she later wed. After many years though, Jason fell for another and crossed Medea in a way no one should. This led Medea to thirst for a revenge far more devious then many can imagine. She planned to kill her to children and Jason’s new found love. After succeeding in the destruction of Jason’s whole point in existence she fled in a dragon drawn chariot to Athens where she has been promised refuge.

The Nurse has been the person who took care of the motherly duties for Medea since her birth. Of course, because of this she knows about Medea’s evil tendencies and how vengeful she truly is. She also acts as a reference to the past, as seen in the beginning passage of the play she tells the background information needed to understand the events that follow. Her main goal throughout the work is to enhance Medea’s persona, but also to show true intentions as poetic justice and not as a malicious act.

Jason the Argonaut was the heir to the throne of Iolchus. His uncle, Pelias, sent him on a mission, to retrieve the Golden Fleece, a mission he knew Jason could not overcome. The turning point for Jason was that before he departed he prayed to Aphrodite. She then made the princess of Colchis, Medea, fall in love with Jason and she helped him succeed in his mission. They then returned to Greece, where years later Jason betrayed Medea by wedding a royal virgin. He hopes to persuade Medea to let him live in peace with his current bride. Medea flawed this plan when she viciously executed Jason’s wife, father-in-law, and both of her children bore from Jason.

Creon is the king of Corinth and father to Jason’s bride. He is first introduced through hearsay when the Tutor warns Medea’s Nurse that Creon plans to exile Medea. He actually appears to decree the ostracism of Medea for protection of himself and his daughter from Medea’s rage. This vain warning was countered by Medea’s pleas of mercy; in turn Creon granted her an extra day to acquire any provisions and a sanctuary in which she could survive in after being exiled. This was his downfall, the day extension gave Medea ample time to plan the assassination of Creon, his daughter, and her two sons.

Aeges is the king of Athens and the man who promises refuge to Medea under one condition; she travels by her own means. In return for this, Medea promises to reveal the secrets of why he is sterile. Although Aeges does not appear often through the play, he plays a very important role.

Quotes

The quote “But now, if you must stay, stay for this day alone. For in it you can do none of the things I fear.” made by Creon on page 12 shows irony since the reader knows that Medea plans to wrong Creon and his family in the following twenty-four hours.

On page 20 when Medea states “A curse, that is what I am to become to your house too.” shows foreshadowing. It has not yet exposed that fact that Medea plans to take the life of her two children, but it sends a message that she plans to hurt someone from her family, be it Jason or her children.

Medea’s last words to her children- “I wish you happiness, but not here in this world.”- expose her intentions and that they are, for lack of a better term, dead men walking. It is foreshadowing in a way even though we had future incentive that she plans to murder her children to gain vengeance on Jason. In a way, it is foreshadowing that this is the final time we will see them alive and that Medea will finally gain her vengeance.

Glossary

The following literary terms are used through Medea. With these literary devices, Medea was made to be one of the greatest Greek plays ever.

Tragedy is a story whose ending possesses a powerful feeling of sorrow and remorse, usually ending in the death of either one or more of the main characters or a great lose to the cause of the hero or heroine. Medea is a tragedy because of the great loses to both Medea and Jason at the end of the play. Although, this is what Medea planned, the death of her two sons and the fact that she was the murderer is saddening to the audience.

A tragic hero is a hero is which starts out at a high point, being very wealthy and/or admired, and slowly falls to the having nothing and being looked upon as lowly and worthless.

Foreshadowing is when the author reveals later parts of the story through hints and irony. Medea uses foreshadowing throughout the play. For instance, when King Creon says that he will extend Medea’s stay for a day because nothing drastic can be done in that short period shows foreshadowing in an ironic way. Since the reader knows what Medea plans they get the hint that she will, in fact, be able to perform her assault against the Jason in the allotted time.

Internal conflict is the battle between a character and his conscious or two conflicting moral beliefs. In Medea, there is the internal conflict of whether she can bring herself to kill her two sons or not. Although this will hurt Jason, Medea cares more for her children then Jason ever did. The conflicting arguments is if fulfilling her vengeance towards Jason is worth the lose she will endure.

Plot summary

To truly understand Medea the preceding story of Jason the Argonaut’s quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece from the land of Colchis. This quest was a fatal one for any brave adventurer. Because of this, he prays to Aphrodite for assistance in this dangerous deed.

Aphrodite offers her assistance by having the witch-princess Medea fall deeply in love with Jason. Therefore, she betrays her whole family and land by giving Jason safe access to the fleece and passage out of the land unscathed.

The play then sets off in Corinth, where Medea has just learned that Jason has left her for a royal virgin bride. With Medea’s evil nature, she immediately plans revenge upon her adulterous husband. Medea’s nurse and her sons’ tutor discuss the rumors of the possible ostracism of Medea from Corinth. The scene then transfers to Medea just as King Creon, kill of Corinth, arrives to order Medea’s banishment from the city. She pleas with Creon to give her a day extension, so she fulfill her plans against Jason and his future bride’s family.

After she cleverly convinces Creon to give her time to plan a sanctum and provisions for herself and her sons, she was able to finish her plans against the royal family. Once she left Creon and constructed her sinister plans, she needed a place to flee, but was unable to remember any allies after her assault against her homeland for Jason. Luckily, Aegeus, King of Athens and an old friend of Medea, was on a journey to seek advice from the oracle of Phoebus. He was questioning the oracle for guidance on childbirth so that he has an heir to his kingdom. Medea promises to reveal the secret to his childlessness if in return he promises her refuge after her banishment from Corinth. He agrees on the sole condition that she travels by her own means, asking him for no assistance.

Since Medea is now guaranteed a safe place to reside in, she initiates her attack upon Jason. She goes about her ploy very cleverly; first, weakening their defenses with kindness; then strikes maliciously. She calls for Jason and apologizes to him and begs him to let her bring gifts to his bride if order to win her favor so that her children could stay with him and not be exiled as well. After much arguing, Jason concedes his disagreements with Medea for the sake of his children. Little does her know what a fatal mistake it was.
The gifts Medea outfits for the bride are cursed by her magic to bestow a deadly poison upon the flesh and a ring of fire around the crown of whom ever adorns the fine woven gown and tiara. She sends her two sons to relay these two items to the princess, not knowing of the crimes they are assisting in.

Once the princess has worn the gifts she shows immediate approval and adores herself in her mirror. Suddenly she sends out a blood-curdling scream and the spells take their affect upon her. After hearing this her father, King Creon, rushes in to aid his fallen daughter. In turn too is taken by the spells placed upon the dress and tiara.

Jason rushes to confront Medea about the evil acts taken committed against his marital family. He returns to late though, hearing the death cries or both of his sons at the hands of their mother, Medea. Before he can become a witness to these atrocious acts, Medea boards the chariot of Helius, drawn by dragons, with the bodies of their children. She once again curses Jason to a life of suffering that will end in a pitifully death without any distinction. Medea flees to Athens where she lives until her death, and Jason dies from after being struck by a timber from his ship, dying without any distinction just as Medea said.