The Characteristic Of Medea By Euripides

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

Medea by Euripides

Medea premiered in 431 B.C and although it only got the third place of the annual poetic contest, the criticism coincides in that we find ourselves before the best work of the Greek tragic. We are presented on the scene to Medea, a foreign woman, from a distant country, with customs and rules very different from those of the Barbarians, she has left everything for Jason, who has not hesitated to betray and abandon her; in the same way has united in marriage to Glauce, the daughter of Creon, king of Corinth. Medea feels captivated by a fury and resentment that she cannot control and guided by these feelings she plans with absolute coldness the destruction of Jason, Glauce and her father (Creon). But our heroine will go even further when she confesses that in order to do more harm to her husband, she will murder her own children so that her revenge is complete.

In the work, we are shown the theme of love from several perspectives: in the first place it is presented as outraged love; and the humiliation that this entails to awaken the hate of the protagonist towards Jason and her consequent desire for revenge, so this feeling will prevail over the other type of love: the maternal one. The abandoned woman, the spiteful lover prevails in front of the mother; the monologues of the work are the ROJAS 2 resource that Euripides uses to show us the recesses of a soul tormented, humiliated, full of hate and desirous of revenge; at the same time it is evident that these feelings are found and manifest in a permanent inner struggle. Through the work, Euripides makes the exposition of themes and subjects proper of the daily reality of the Athenians at the moment and that they were not a normative subject in the classic tragedy: the matrimonial conflicts, the sexual relations, the despised situation of the women, the suffering of the slaves and the rejection of foreigners by the Greeks.

The central point of the work perfectly illustrates this aspect, the irremediable conflict arises from the confrontation between the cold and calculating selfishness of Jason and the crazy and immense love of Medea, that is, a marital and / or sexual problem that is aggravated by the situation of disadvantage that Medea lives due to her condition as a woman and as a foreigner. He has failed to all the promises he made to the Barbarian witch and this will not hesitate her to contravene the female roles of Greek society, in order to achieve her revenge. Furthermore, she reminds us how he owes everything to her and that without her help he would have achieved none of his exploits, in this way the betrayal of perjured Jason becomes a vile and despicable act. Also, Euripides’ characters are very real because they are not stable and immutable or perfect as the Gods, no, they are round beings that evolve according to the situation and circumstances that surround them, they doubt, suffer, hesitate and change their minds on many occasions. But they always show us feelings and credible states with which the reader of any era can feel identified.

Medea doubts when she makes the decision to kill her children: “That’s the easy part, all thought out and what follows is ROJAS 3 more than unspeakable. I must kill my children…”(Lines 781-783) Medea through her monologues tries to prove her innocence and the guilt of the other, she justifies her performance since she has been humiliated, she will not consent to be the mockery of others, she has lost everything for Jason, and he, on the other hand, abandons her: “I can’t restore my home and country. I was wrong to leave my father, wrong to let a Greek seduce me with is promises” (Lines 791-794). These elements perfectly illustrate the character of the author and of the Euripidean work; both of these reflect the moment in which Greek society lived, a change from very rigid, deeply religious and traditional schemes to an environment deeply influenced by the democratic mentality that flooded all human areas. The characterization that Euripides gave Medea shows the internal emotions of passion, love and revenge. Medea is widely read as a pro-feminist text insofar as she sympathetically explores the disadvantages of being a woman in a patriarchal society. In conflict with this sympathetic background or reinforcing a more negative reading is Medea’s barbaric identity, which would antagonize a Greek audience of the fifth century. ROJAS 4


  1. Euripides, Michael Collier, and Georgia Machemer. Medea. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
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