A Case Of Mental Disease in Medea
In the Greek Tragedy Medea by Euripides, the play follows Medea’s development as the Anti-Hero’s mental state originates as feelings of betrayal and despair, but soon ultimately turns into a state of insanity and madness fueled by her dire revenge against her ex-husband, Jason. These feelings of rage are enacted when Jason decides to leave Medea in favor of marrying the King of Corinth’s daughter, Glauke to provide stability for himself. Medea, being the barbarian that she is, does something to which no ordinary woman would do during this time and rises to the occasion of enacting revenge against Jason, the princess, and Creon. Medea formulates a plan by poisoning a gossamer gown and a golden crown to give to the princess. Not only does she succeed with this endeavor by killing the princess, but Creon also dies as he embraces his daughter while wearing the poisonous garments which poisons him as well. Knowing that her children won’t be safe due to the merciless deeds she committed, Medea’s test ends up making the ultimate sacrifice by killing her children because she would rather herself commit the murder than someone else who did not love and care for them the way Medea did. Medea is an Anti-Hero because she is cunning, brutal, and ruthless in her endeavors to get back at Jason. She isn’t necessarily evil as she didn’t choose for the events that happened in the play to happen towards her and her sympathy for her children gives her a redeeming virtue and makes the reader appreciate Medea to an extent rather than scorn her.
The hero type that would change the Hero’s Test associated with the play entirely would be that of an Epic Hero among Medea. If Medea were born as an Epic Hero, her unusual circumstance of birth would be a quality that people would praise her for rather than belittlement and ridicule. Her greatness would be further heightened by helping Jason obtain the Golden Fleece. As a result, Medea and Jason would be treated as royalty by the common people and would spend the remainder of their days traveling throughout Greece and the city-states going on multiple adventures with the intent of winning the Peloponnesian war for Greece. Thus, bringing Greece into a state of peace of prosperity for many years to come. This type of legacy that Medea would have on Greece culturally would leave the men of Greece to break their stereotype about the women of Greece and would view women as being just as powerful as themselves bringing equality between both genders which would impact the rest of Europe in terms of gender equality.
From what was said in the preceding paragraph placing Medea into the role of a contrasting hero type, Medea being an Epic Hero would not be the most beneficial role to the original period in terms of the period and culture practice for various reasons. This age in time is the period just after Epic Heroes flourished in society. Most people during this time might not sympathize with Medea being an Epic Hero. Since this play is also during the Peloponnesian War, many of the men going to war may think they are fulfilling some heroic deed as being courageous so the people of Greece are used to seeing all kinds of alleged “war heroes”. These citizens would most likely sympathize with a hero who stands out from these men and is different from this role such as a misfit or an anti-hero.
Another reason why this hero type would not work during this period is because Medea is a woman. Although Medea does break many stereotypes that are targeted at women all throughout this play, when most people picture an Epic Hero, they think of someone such as Superman or Hercules who are male, dominant characters. The culture of this period was still extremely patriarchal and female Epic Heroes were rather uncommon. The role of most women during this time was to mend the home and children while the men were off at war. That is why Medea being an Anti-Hero is crucial to this play. She takes on an important, independent role for the sake of women everywhere in Athens. Medea being an Anti-Hero gives women an opportunity to break the subservient stereotypes associated towards them and are given the chance to stand up for themselves. Medea may be brutal in her pursuits against Jason, but one cannot doubt she is extremely cunning and smart in the way she executes her plan to get revenge. All women can be just as smart in this fashion if given the opportunity and with the legacy that Medea leaves, women begin to realize this new role to which they can take on thus creating more independent females in this society.
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