Euripides Medea Unabridged Dover Thrift Edition

Posted: November 28th, 2013





Euripides Medea Unabridged Dover Thrift Edition

            Women were considered as conservative figures in the ancient Greek era whereby they were expected to fulfill household duties and be under the dominance of men. However, the story of Medea written by Euripides expresses the situation whereby the normal women’s perception by the Greek society is altered by a single female character. The character stands out from the other females by failing to conform to the society’s expectations of women and hence sets a new platform for in which women could flex the perception held by the society. The story of the above title is a play that shows stirs two main characters known as Medea and Jason.

Medea is Jason’s first wife and she is depicted as being dangerous because of having been involved in crime on her husband’s behalf. Jason leaves Medea for another new wife, who apparently is the daughter of the King known as Creon. Since the devastating incident, Medea suffers from endless grief to the extent of going against her own children since they trigger her reflect on memories of her husband (Stephen, Smith, Brunet and Palaima 322). This is seen where Medea cries, “Ah, I have suffered what should be wept for bitterly. I hate you, children of a hateful mother. I curse you and your father.” This is where Medea shows his hatred towards his children because of her husband.

The tutor of Mede and Jason’s children brings unpleasant news to Medea when he informs her of the King’s decision to throw her together with her children out of the Corinth city. Medea becomes devastated that she starts crying as she curses her own family (Perry 230). As the King meets with Medea, he reminds her that she is required to leave giving the reason that she is dangerous and is therefore, capable of being a threat to the city. This is expressed by the king as he is talking to Medea when he says, “You are dangerous. All your cleverness shall not keep you here”. However, Medea pleads with the King to give her more time to organize herself before leaving the town. As a result, the king considers her appeal and gives her a day before making her evacuate the place (Peter 3).

In this play both Jason and Medea, experience tragic events that they almost appear to be tragic heroes. Medea is displayed as having gone through several troubles especially in the scene where she attempts in formulating a plan to avenge against her cheating spouse (Stephen 212). As the play begins, Medea instantly stirs up sympathy from the viewers when the nurse gives her the devastating news of her husband leaving her for another younger and beautiful princess (Perry 230).

For example, Medea expresses her reactions when she says, “Ah, wretch! Ah, lost in my sufferings, I wish, I wish I might die”. This draws attention to the audience because it makes them feel sympathetic for Medea as she displays how helpless she feels within the tragedy she is facing. Therefore, the introduction scene in the play convicts the audience support to be on Medea’s side because she is displayed as a miserable and abandoned wife.

She is depicted as being blameless and suffers the misfortune of being abandoned in a foreign state with children. For example, the nurse that takes care of her at the maternity states, “And her hand, and her home betrayed when she came away with. A man who is now determined to dishonor her. Poor creature, she has discovered by her sufferings,” to express how she feels bad for Medea having to go through her husband’s abandonment after all she sacrificed (Euripides 2). In addition, she is left with no source of income to provide for her family because of being abandoned by her husband (Karuna 221). In response to the devastation, she expresses grief to the extent that she draws the attention of the town dwellers. Medea expresses how devastating it is to experience such a tragedy that she prefers dying than putting up with the pain and anguish involved (James and Johnston 179).

The sympathy felt towards Medea by the audience increases when other facts involving her arise. For example, she left her native location to be Jason’s wife and murdered several men, her brother included, for the sake of ensuring that her husband succeeds. Unfortunately, instead of being treated with dignity and the respect she deserves, she is chased out of where she lives because of being considered as a threat to the surrounding due to her past record of committing murder. As a result, having no connections in the foreign land, deportation becomes a terrible consequence to pay for Jason’s betrayal. In fact, the Nurse can be quoted as saying, “Jason has betrayed his sons and [Medea], takes to bed a royal bride.”

On the other hand, Jason’s case is the opposite since he is depicted as being highly ambitious. This is because he makes his wife kill people especially her brother just so that he succeeds in being a part of the ruling power. However, after his wife sacrifices her reputation and family for him, he ends up abandoning her in order to be with the king’s daughter. The nurse states that, “Her [Medea’s] home she sacrificed to journey here with a man – oh – who disdains her now.” To show how Medea sacrificed for Jason. Jason makes this move in order to obtain one of the ruling positions in the kingdom. However, all these incidents leave him with a sense of shame and fright when he says, “I did not blame you [Medea] It is natural for a woman to be enraged when her husband goes off making second marriages” (James and Johnson 178). This is because the misfortunes that strike him are incomparable and sudden where he experiences failure and misfortune and is therefore, viewed as the tragic hero.

Jason is also displayed as a weak hero despite his strong point in being physically attractive. This is because his achievements resulted from the constant assistance he got from women including Medea and the King’s daughter (Roman, Luke and Roman 310). Therefore, the character that scores more points in being the tragic hero is Medea because she plays the crucial role in Jason’s achievements. For example, Medea possesses the heroic features because she kills her husband’s enemies for him. As a result, her destructive and single-minded nature displays her heroism.

An outsider can be referred to a person who has certain characteristics that isolate him or her from a particular association. In addition, an outsider is usually segregated from operations and concerns that are followed and practiced by his own community. For example, Medea was considered an outsider because she has been displayed as the only barbarian character while the rest are from the Greek community. For her sacrifice, the nurse noted, “[Medea] might be a rock or wave or the sea, for all she heeds of sympathy from friends, except sometimes to […] moan to herself about her father–whom she loved–and her country and the home she sacrificed”. People from the Greek culture were considered as highly sophisticated and rational. In addition, any person who failed to understand or speak the Greek language was considered a barbarian by the Greek community. Greeks were perceived to be dominating in the cultural and education aspects.

This distinction is significant because it shows how Medea stands out from other Greek characters due to her barbaric nature (Euripides 8). This is shown where Medea states, “In point of fact, my knowledge does not amount to much” (Euripides 9). Another aspect that illustrates Medea’s seclusion as an outsider is gender. Medea is obviously a woman, but fails to fall in the usual category of how women used to live by following certain obligations during that period (Euripides 8). During the ancient period in Athens, most women from well brought up families were expected to remain at home to take charge of the household responsibilities. Medea also states, “I am alone, uprooted from a foreign land,” This shows the distinction between the identity of the Greek society and Medea.

Women did not get the chance to express their true citizenship because they were denied access to voting or even having a stand to speak in a court case despite them having a legal right to do so (Carolyn 75). However, Media is depicted as being very isolated because she views herself as an equal of her husband (Lagerlund and Mikko 2). She declines to the idea of being a submissive wife, which results to devastating results when her husband decides to leave her for another woman (Euripides and Blondell 170). Medea’s isolation is also seen where she states, “I had rather stand my ground three times among the shields than face a childbirth once.” This statement illustrates her as a female who is more masculine since she prefers battling to giving birth. Medea also states, “Oh, the mistake I made was trusting the word of a man from Greece.”  This is to show how Medea’s lack of trust in the members of the Greek society.

Outsiders are likely to display unusual behaviors when compared to other members of the society. For example, Medea deserted her native soil and murdered her own younger brother (Justina 181). Normally, most people have deep-seated or sub-conscious connections with their relatives and family members. However, Medea’s case was unique because she chose her husband over her younger brother as she murdered him for her husband to benefit (Spark Notes 589). Medea’s husband, Jason states, “So […] this is not the first time I have seen irrevocable damage done by a barbarous rage.” As Jason refers to the word barbarous, he expresses how Medea and her actions are uncommon among the Greek society.

Another instance of Medea displaying the behavior of an outsider is when she seems to display characters of warmth and darkness as the rest of the Greek community display straight-backed and cold characters (Josephine 169). For example, Medea is shown in the play as lacking maternal feelings. This is shown where one of the characters in the play known as Nikias describes the incident where she saw Medea with a child.

Nikka states, “She held her lips to his and looked into his eyes, Not gladly as a mother with her child, But stirred with some strange passion; then the boy Cried out with terror, and Medea wept”. Medea’s deviant connection to her own child appears to be as odd to the speculating audience as it is anguishing to the child (Eric 23). Later on as she murders her children by stabbing them, she forms an alien expression on her face (Harold 65). Her ambitions directing to vengeance are extraordinary because she sacrifices to destroy the people that are a part of her (Josephine 169).

Medea states, “I even bore you [Jason] sons just to be discarded for a new bride. Had you been childless, this craving for another bedmate might have been forgiven” (Harold 66). The Greek society viewed a woman’s obligation in marriage as giving children to the husband. As is noted, “[Medea] was in everything Jason’s perfect foil, being in marriage that saving thing: a wife who does not go against her man.” Medea felt extremely betrayed because despite fulfilling that duty, Jason did not show any appreciation. Therefore, murdering their children would teach Jason a lesson for taking advantage of Medea.

Medea’s justifications of her actions are based on vengeance. Since her husband left her, after how much she had sacrificed for his success including murdering her own brother, she felt the need to make him pay for the misery he had caused her (Helene 253). Medea views Jason’s actions as a sign of ungratefulness because she went out of her way in killing members of her family and, therefore, feels that her husband should suffer the same pain he made her go through. For example, the nurse states, “[Medea] hates her sons […] I dread to think of what is hatching in her mind.” This is to show Medea’s dangerous capability of showing vengeance.

Medea’s brutal act of killing her own children was a way of ensuring that her husband suffered extreme pain from the loss of his children (Franz and Miller 234). She was noted as uttering, “Oh, what misery! […] Cursed sons, and a mother for cursing! Death take you all – you and your father […]”. However, these actions were not valid because at the end of it all, Medea ended up being miserable (Helen 253). In fact, the nurse questions her, “Why make the sons share in their father’s guilt?” Despite her being described as lacking human consciousness, it is possible that the deaths of her close related members affected her in a deep way. In addition, she ended up alone because no one including the husband or family members wanted to associate with her.

There is a possibility of Medea moving inside by synchronizing with her surrounding if she accepted to face the consequences of what she did. For example, she would have to first travel to her homeland to face her family members and confess her crime as she attempts to ask for forgiveness. The next step would be Medea going to the authorities to make a public confession and apology. Although the first reactions she would get from the society would not be pleasant, people would eventually forgive her actions as time passes because they would realize that she had acknowledged her wrong doings.

The society moving towards the outsider depends on the type or intensity of the impact brought on the environment. For example, in Medea’s case, there are slim chances of the society accepting her because she committed crimes that brought a devastating effect on society. Medea being a threat to the Kingdom’s allies plus her deviant act of killing her own blood made the society despite her. Majority of the people would have wished for her immediate execution before they ever considered forgiving her. Medea says, “Because I have a little knowledge, some are filled with jealousy, others think me secretive, and crazy” (Eric 23). This shows how the Greek society had placed Medea in an isolated position.

Based on looking at the societal standards, Medea is an outsider because her actions fail to meet the expected societal standards. For example, in the case of Medea being a mother, society expects her to nurture and take care of her children but instead she brutally slaughters them in the name of fulfilling her ambitions of avenging her husband (Emma 48). Medea is also expected by the society to show love, consideration and respect for her family but instead she displays heartlessness when she kills her brother and abandons her family to migrate to a new country with Jason. Indeed, she is noted as being of the opinion, “Of all creatures that can feel and think, we women are the worst treated things alive”. Based on the societal standards, she would have been expected to put her family first by giving up anything that would destroy their relationship including her husband.




















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