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Critical Analysis Of Medea As A Tragedy

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Table of contents

  1. Gender Roles
  2. Marriage
  3. Love
  4. Foreignness
  5. Conclusion

The story of Medea by author Euripides conveys the loathsome side of human relationships, especially within a family. The society being presented in the story mirrors major situations happening in our society. Medea is a woman who has suffered a lot, and over time, she became twisted by her own pain. Euripides uses gender roles, love, marriage, and being a foreigner as a common motif in this short story. True power of love lies in the lack of protection and comfort it provides for the protagonist. She recognizes her marriage as a representation of betrayal and dishonor. She is clouded with thoughts of revenge, without realizing from the beginning that her love serves as a time bomb for her self destruction.

Gender Roles

There is a timeline of tradition that has enabled men and women to establish gender role in present society. Some people still argue that gender roles still exist, but others do not believe they do. Back then, men typically went to school and worked in the office, while females took care of the children and did household chores. Although these roles are less evident in some countries, these traditional roles are still practiced in other societies but tend to have similar meaning when compared to the past. Euripides lengthy express how gender roles and marriage affect women during the greek era and what hardship they face. In the beginning of the play, medea nurse voice some of the bad deed medea did to her own family for her husband jason: “ my mistress medea would not have sailed for the towers of the land of Iolcus, her heart on fire with passionate love for jason; nor would she have persuaded the daughters of pelias to kill their father, and now be living here in Corinth with her husband and children” (Pg 147, Five Great Greek Tragedies).

Just like many other women, medea had to give up her home, family, and body for marriage, she intended to devote solely on her husband alone. The author Euripidies use the play to convey that women in the greek society are so powerless, medea in the play was helpless, a foreigner in another country, and most important a woman in corinth. She felt that “of all creatures that have breath and sensation, we women are the most unfortunate,”(Pg 182,Five Great Greek Tragedies). and move on to discuss the hardship and partial situation women face like “for there is no easy escape for a woman, nor can she say no to her marriage”(Pg 182,Five Great Greek Tragedies). She felt that the corinth society was sickening, to the point that she had the mentality that what applies to the male in the society does not applies to females, in the sense of authority over their life. She is deeply jealous of the freedom men have.


Moreover medea talk about marriage and how women do not have a say in the marriage but “ a man, whenever he is annoyed with the company of those in the house, goes elsewhere and let the soul of soul of his boredom”( Pg 183,Five Great Greek Tragedies). But we women must fix our gaze solely on one person only. Men constantly complain that we live a life free from danger at home, by being a housewife, while he exerts himself, I would be the voice of all women and medea say that women would rather stand three times with a shield in battle than give birth once. Gender roles were abandoned in ancient greek society, making it so that women have finite social and political power in the society. Marriage was never an option for women in greek society, it was a requirement to get married at a certain age. Always hoping love will come with the package called marriage was the dreams of the women in ancient greek.

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Aphrodite, goddess of love, was not held in high regard in the story. Everything she touches, always turns out to be a disaster, which will lead to the death of a loved one and unhappiness. Up to the point that the protagonist plead to the goddess to release her from the distress, love brings to her. As a reader I could analyze that the root of all medea’s anger is love. She fell in love with jason during his search for the golden fleece. The nurse noted that her mistress medea, would have never been hit with cupid's arrow, if not for jason appearance. Her deep affection is the incitement for her inhumane act for revenge. Human beings have a tendency to think only about what benefit them. In the conversation between the nurse and the tutor; they were deeply converse on the irony of love: This started with the nurse stating what an enemy jason is to those people he should have loved, with the tutor replying that everyone loves himself more than his neighbor. (Pg 178, Five Great Greek Tragedies) Some people have a reason, why others get something out of it; so jason neglect his wife and children for the new bride​ ​for the opportunity to be king Creon successor.

Euripides seems to be connecting the medea play and analyzing the irony of love to the theory concerning humanity. He is set on portraying love as a force of destruction, by displaying that his characters affection are the reason for their tragedy. He criticizes love as a dangerous thing and also use the medea play to make a statement that a healthy relationship is absurd, because greak men do not trust greek women. The play on words between jason and medea proves that medea did not feel some kind of remorse after killing her children. This scene started with Jason sobbing over his dead children and Medea telling him that she killed them just to get at his heart, which ends with Jason stating that he wishes his kids are hugging and kissing him as he entered the room. Yet again, Euripides being redundant over the irony of love to humanity.

During this moment did Medea display happiness and satisfaction now that she completely demolish any source of “that thing” called love from her anguish soul. No matter what steps you take, love and marriage can not change one's identity, and definitely can not clean the slate of one being a foreigner, but medea mentality proved otherwise.


Medea was accepted with open arms into the corinthian society. Despite her being a foreigner, they treated her like any other greek woman; but after her husband betrayed her in their holy matrimonial home, people of corinth started treating her as a foreigner, which is basically on the same level as a slave in corinth except with fewer rights. Jason felt the need to address to Medea that no greek women would have killed their children, but medea did it and not think about the consequences because she is a foreigner and an outsider to the greek society. In ancient greece, the citizen stand guard against foreigners or anything foriegn to them, and call the foreigners barbarians, because they feel like outsiders come into their society and become wild and unruly. Which will tarnish the epitome of the greek image; After marrying Jason, Medea had to work hard to break the foreigner stigma and had the mentality that she has to assimilate herself to be able to be accepted and fit in to the society. Euripides portray Medea as an intelligent woman; that acted weak to convince the chorus; which symbolize the women corinth, to take pity on her. She was able to convince the king of Corinth to let her stay one more day, just to execute her revenge. She played with everyone minds and used everyone like a chess piece. This play worsen the view of foreigners in the greek society.


Medea is a woman I feared and pitied as a reader, but at the same time, I admire her as a person for all her effort. She is basically a heroine that got away with murder, and which is no different from other male figures in her society. As a reader, a woman and a caretaker of children, I am bewildered on whether to say if she was guilty for the killings or not because love can make us crazy. Women should be pitieds because every step they take in life, there always seems to be unfair consequences drawn down on them. Madea fell in love and the time for her self-destruction started ticking. So many promises come up that are followed by disappointment; which causes her to blow up.

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Critical Analysis Of Medea As A Tragedy. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
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