Gender Inequality In Medea By Euripides
In Medea, the protagonist of the same name is cast aside by her husband, the hero Jason, for another woman. In the play, Medea has no say in any of her husband’s actions, as she is a woman in a male-dominated Greece, and she is a foreigner in the kingdom Corinth. Medea is a horribly flawed character and Euripides, with this play, revolutionized Revenge Tragedies by allowing Medea getaway with her murderous acts without any repercussions. Medea criticizes the male-dominated society at the time, with a radical anti-heroine protagonist who is sympathised by the audience. Medea’s pursuit of revenge is shown throughout the play, and Medea is a testimony of the outcomes of a person’s desire for revenge. Euripedes often criticised the oppression of the role of women. This leads me to the question: how does Medea defy Ancient Athenian expectation of tragedy and its presentation of women?
In ancient Greece, women had little to no rights compared to their male counterparts. They were unable to vote, to own land or to inherit it. Women’s purpose was to stay at home and bear children. Although in Greek Mythology, some major gods are women, revered for their intelligence, honour, and female fertility in agriculture. However, in the male-dominated literature, women are portrayed as problematic, and their role is to derail the plans of the male heroes. In Greek literature, women are often portrayed either as being ruled by passion and wild emotions, such as Medea, or completely submissive and loyal to their husband, like Penelope in Homer’s Odyssey. Greek tragedies in literature were used didactically, as a way to teach the audience a valuable moral lesson, and they also reflected the Athenian life, attitudes and values. The plots were drawn from existing myths. With Medea, Euripedes challenged the expectations of a tragedy as his story was not focused on the protagonist of the already existing myth of Jason and the Argonauts. Instead, it is focused on the point of view and narrative of Medea, previously a side character. And its didactic nature is more implicit than other Athenian Tragedies at the time, as the play shows how the protagonist commits the worst crimes possible: familicide, the murder of one’s family. And, even more surprisingly, gets away with it, saved by Helios’ chariot. Euripedes also defies the Ancient Athenian expectations
In Greek tragedies, the action is centred around the protagonist, a tragic hero. A tragic hero is a noble and great man; however, he is also a man of misfortune, because of a tragic flaw (hamartia), that leads them to violate moral codes and break the natural law, an error in judgement that is not realized until it is too late (hubris). The tragic hero experiences a reversal of fate (a peripeteia). The tragic hero also experiences a punishment from the gods he angered or disrespected (nemesis). And leading to the resolution of the play the tragic hero recognizes their true identity and the true nature of their situation. Throughout all of this, the audience feels pity for the fallen hero (catharsis).
Euripedes defies the set elements of a Tragedy in his play Medea, as the protagonist defies the role of women in plays, and defies the archetypal hero in previous Athenian plays at the time. Medea is neither a man nor a righteous person. She follows the archetypal attributes of a tragic hero: noble birth, supernatural capabilities, the reputation of being an unmatched warrior and a vast traveller; as she is the demi-god princess of Colchis, a barbarian land at the edge of the Greek world, she is a great sorceress who helped Jason complete his task of retrieving the Golden Fleece, and travelled with him to Iolcus and finally to Corinth. However. Medea is not a tragic heroine because Medea’s hubris was not an error, it was planned with the sole purpose and motivation of revenge. Medea challenges Ancient Athenian expectations of a tragedy.
Medea, written by the infamous Greek tragedian Euripides, shines a light on the injustices women faced in Classical Greece. Throughout the play, Medea is constantly ostracized and villainized due to the heinous crimes she committed with Jason to retrieve the Golden Fleece. Despite this, Medea “fights” back against the patriarchy, and shows that she won’t confine herself to gender expectations. Moreover, Medea consistently shows that she doesn’t consider herself an outcast, but a powerful independent woman. Many people in Classical...
Female characters in gothic texts both challenge and reinforce prevailing standards of gender difference within the patriarchal society at the time that they were written. In Macbeth and Medea, both Shakespeare and Euripides portray women as a symbol of defiance, challenging the gender constructions and the male-dominant system by appropriating traits then-known to be masculine. Whether we talk about the Athenian audience or the Jacobean audience, both expected women to act elegant and stay calm and collected but the main...
Justice is a theme present in most in Greek Literature, to punish one’s actions or words that are considered wrong or to uphold ideals seen as good. Justice is used to instil that wrongs in society are stopped, and rights will be upheld. Revenge is the act of committing a harmful action towards a person or a group in response to a grievance however in many cases revenge can be seen as justice. While Medea and Antigone are alike in...
“Medea” is a Greek tragedy by Euripides detailing the journey of a woman and protagonist Medea. The play is an immaculate symphony of all the decisions and motivations of Medea and the sharp contrast of those decisions to the Antagonist and Medea’s husband Jason. In “Medea” Euripides explores the theme of rationality and reason contrasted by irrationality and passion through the two main characters Jason and Medea. Jason is a legendary hero and adventurer in many of Euripides plays but...
Love continues through Euripides’s Medea. Euripides’s Medea is an ancient Greek tragedy based on the myth of Medea and Jason. The play that was discussed about in class is based on the actions of Medea who was a princess of the Colchis Kingdom. Medea can be described as a fine line just between hate and love but we wonder what one is more than the other. It seems as if she is loving wife but also a dangerous enemy at...
Works of literature are often framed to portray clear distinctions between heroic figures and those who are the complete opposite of them. Typically, readers know early on which character is the one they should be rooting for and are invested in seeing that person prosper. Euripides’ Medea complicates this notion. Medea betrayed her family, killed a king and his daughter and murdered her own children. However, Medea is undeniably the tragic hero of the drama. Throughout the course of the...
In Euripides’ play Medea, the audience witnesses the ongoing conflict between acting out of reason and of passion, both of which can result in destructive ends. The main protagonist Medea embodies an extremely vengeful and strong-willed character, whose extreme passion often overrides reason and results in irrational behaviour. However, at times, Medea is able to act in control of her actions as seen when it comes to manipulating others and is therefore also capable of putting her emotions aside. In...
Revenge is a significant theme in most Greek tragedies as it is perceived as a means of justice by the victimized protagonists. In Euripides’ ‘Medea’ (431 BC), revenge takes centre stage as it is foregrounded in an appallingly visible manner in the multiple murders committed by the eponymous female protagonist, Medea. This essay aims to present an argument on (i) the significance and construction of revenge in Greek drama, (ii) the motive for Medea’s revenge and, (iii) whether her acts...
The catastrophic Greek tragedy, “Medea” deals with the maltreatment faced by the titular character and how such struggles can lead to immoral retributive acts. Medea challenges society’s paradigm of the typical woman who is a “timid creature” and a “coward” through her headstrong and opinionated character, thereby establishing herself as an exemplar for women. Moreover, Euripides illustrates how Medea, as a woman, struggles against her male consort, as well as the patriarchal Athenian society and how this conflict is only...
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