Table of contents
- Medea Analysis
- 2. Write a 500-word character analysis on Medea, Jason and the Chorus. (10 marks)
- 3. Write a 500-word analysis of the Themes in the play. (10 marks)
- 4. Write a 500-word analysis of symbol and colour in the play. (10 marks)
1. Write a 500-word Synopsis of the play Medea (10 marks)
Euripedes’ play opens in Conrith with Medea in a state of conflict. Not only does her husband Jason marry another woman (Glauke, daughter of Creon the King of Corinth) but on top of this, Creon banishes Medea and her children from the city.
In the play’s opening, the nurse summarises events that took place before the play began. After a long series of trials and journeys, ultimately forcing Jason and Medea to seek exile in Corinth, they had settled down and established their family. Jason’s abandonment of their family has Medea emotionally damaged, to the degree that she curses her own existence, as well as that of her two children.
In the fear of a possible plot of revenge, Creon banishes Medea and her children from the Corinth. After a plead for mercy, Medea is allowed one day more before she must leave, during which she plans to complete her quest of revenge – the murder of Creon, Glauce, and Jason. Jason accuses Medea of reacting disproportionately. By publicly voicing these injustices, she has put their children and her own life at risk. He claims that his decision to remarry was in everyone’s best interest. Medea sees his weakness’, and she refuses to accept his offer to help.
Aegeus, the King of Athens, offers Medea refuge in his city in exchange for her wisdom of certain drugs that can cure his sterility. Now guaranteed a stay Athens, Medea is a step closer to completing her revenge, a plan that has grown to include the murder of her own children; the hurt that their death will cause is lesser than the satisfaction she will feel in making Jason suffer.
In an attempt to show sympathy towards Jason, Medea offers his wife gifts; a coronet and dress. Little do they know, the coronet and dress are poisoned and they eventually are the cause of Glauce’s death. Seeing his daughter killed, Creonmakes the dramatic choice of dying by her side embracing her and absorbing the poison as well.
A messenger recounts the gruesome details of these deaths, which Medea absorbs with cool attentiveness. In the play’s climax, Medea enters the house to stab her children, against the protests of the chorus. She then flees the scene in a dragon-pulled chariot provided by her grandfather, the Sun-God, Jason is left cursing his lot.
2. Write a 500-word character analysis on Medea, Jason and the Chorus. (10 marks)
Medea is the daughter of King Aeetes of the island of Clochis and granddaughter of Helios, the sun god. She is the protagonist of the play, a proud, self possed, and influential woman who takes an emotional journey from despair to sadistic fury. She used her powers to help Jason secure the Golden Fleece; then, having fallen in love with him, she escaped her country and family to live with Jason in Iolcus, his own home. During the departure over the Mediterranean, she murdered her sibling and dumped him over the edge, so that her pursuers would have to slow down and bury him. Banished as killers, Jason and Medea settled in Corinth, the setting of Euripides’ play, where they set up a group of two kids and increased ideal notoriety. All this happens before the action of the play, which opens with Jason having divorced Medea and taken up with a new family. She, in the end, retaliates for Jason’s treachery with a progression of murders, closing with the passings of her own children. Famously, the joy of watching Jason endure their misfortune exceeded her own regret at slaughtering them. Medea’s character has a strong effect on audiences as we are able to sympathize with her plight and understand her anger from being abandoned. Be that as it may, while her decision to kill her kids, Glauce and Creon can paint her as the antagonist of the play. She is also a cunning and cold manipulator: she sees through the false pieties and hypocritical values of her enemies and uses their own moral bankruptcy against them. Her vengeance is absolute, however, it comes at the expense of all that she holds dear. Medea is an influential lady who challenges the prejudices of the male-dominated societies that seem to have no place for her or her powers. She is passionate, vengeful, and unrelenting in her pursuit of justice.
Jason is the King of Iolcus and husband of Medea. In many readings of this story, Jason is the main antagonist. His ambition and faithlessness cause the tragic events of the play to unfold. In abandoning Medea for his own social advancement, Jason abandons his role as head of the household and breaks his word. He is depicted as an opportunistic and unscrupulous man, full of self-deception and repugnant smugness. He condescends to his wife, although she is in every way superior to him. Within the play, he is a shortsighted representative of the ruling class of advantaged men.
The Chorus is made out of a gathering of Corinthian ladies who have collected outside Medea’s house because of the loud wailing and lamentation they have overheard coming from it. In many cases, the Chorus can be taken as standing in for the audience of the play—reacting as the audience would. The chief difference, of course, is that the Chorus participates in the action and dialogue.
3. Write a 500-word analysis of the Themes in the play. (10 marks)
The charming intrigue of vengeance is the fundamental driver of the play’s ubiquity. Medea is happy to forfeit everything to make her retribution great. She kills her own kids, incomprehensibly, to shield them from the counter-revenge of her enemies; she also kills them to hurt Jason, although in slaying them she is damning herself to the existence of regret and misery. The revenge he is suffering was actually meant for her. He says, ‘The avenging fury meant for you/the gods have sent to me.’ Yet Medea escapes punishment for her crimes, while Jason is going to have his ‘head smashed in,’ as Medea predicts. As Medea says, the gods know who began the fight.
Medea is a woman of extreme behaviour and extreme emotion. For her passionate love for Jason, she sacrificed all, committing unspeakable acts on his behalf. But his betrayal of her has transformed passion into a rage. Her violent and intemperate heart, formerly devoted to Jason, now is set on his destruction. The Greeks were very interested in the extremes of emotion and the consequences of leaving emotion unchecked; they also tended to see strong passion and rage as part and parcel of greatness. Medea is an example of passion carried too far, in a woman perversely set on choosing rage over mercy and reason. The Chorus frequently mentions that passionate love is not desirable: ‘Love with too much passion/brings … no fine reputation.’ The Chorus prays that Aphrodite not fill a ‘heart with jealousy/or angry quarrelling’ but ‘bless peaceful unions,/using wisdom.’ The Chorus insists that love without passion but with moderation and wisdom is better because it does not breed destruction.
Part of the play’s power comes from Euripedes’s ability to make the audience feel sympathy for Medea despite her monstrous actions. At the end of the play, she reminds Jason of what she did for him in the past and how she has taken revenge for his betrayal. In abandoning her, Jason has not only dishonoured her, because a divorced woman is not respected but also deprived her of an identity. She betrayed her own city-state for him and in exile will be dependent on the help of King Aegeus. His lack of shame and his refusal to credit the help she gave him are further instances of betrayal. Medea also commits acts of betrayal and did so long before the beginning of the play. She killed her brother and betrayed her father to help Jason, and she manipulated the daughters of Pelias into killing him. Betrayal breeds betrayal as she uses her sons to deliver her deadly gifts to the princess and then kills them to make Jason suffer.
4. Write a 500-word analysis of symbol and colour in the play. (10 marks)
The image of the crown can allude not exclusively to the princess of Corinth yet in addition to Creon (her dad, the lord) and to Jason, who was quickly ruler in his country of Iolcus. Medea has flouted the authority of Corinth by speaking against the royal crown and refusing exile. She then sends a poisoned golden crown, along with a poisoned robe, as a gift to soften the princess’s heart toward Medea’s children. The princess doesn’t want to accept the gifts, but Jason urges her to. After the princess arranges the ‘golden crown,/fixing it in her hair in the bright mirror,’ she becomes as bright as the mirror by bursting into flame. Medea’s jealousy, rage, and need for revenge have transformed a symbol of authority into a weapon that destroys the royal house. It is fitting that Jason is the person who urges the princess to acknowledge the gifts because his betrayal of Medea is the cause of his new bride’s death.
Medea and Jason’s marriage house symbolizes their time together as husband and wife. Symbolically, all action and dialogue in Medea take place outside of the house. The play starts with the Nurse commenting and then talking with the Tutor about how the union between Medea and Jason is broken, making them ‘enemies.’ During this opening, Medea’s offstage cries from within the marriage house can be heard to punctuate the tale of betrayal the Nurse is recounting. Medea’s cries draw the Chorus to her door, from which position it serves as a moral conscience to Medea even though its advice does not alter her plans. Medea destroys the marriage house completely when she kills her sons within its walls. One child cries from within, ‘Help me … help,’ and other boy calls out, ‘What do I do? How can I escape/my mother’s hands?’ These cries symbolize the final obliteration of the marriage. The door of the house is now closed, never to open again, just as Medea and Jason’s marriage has been irrevocably destroyed by his betrayal and her revenge.
The final scenes with Medea escaping in a winged golden chariot bring awe and fear. Helios was the god in Greek mythology that brought the sun up and down each day by riding his golden chariot across the sky. Medea is the granddaughter of Helios, and her use of his chariot symbolizes her partial divinity and her female pride and strength. She claims her victory when she rises beyond Jason’s reach and says to him, ‘You’ll never/have me in your grasp, not in this chariot.’ While she escapes punishment in her chariot, her flight also reinforces her portrayal as an outsider who is not entirely human.