Think about the last time you were angry and someone told you to calm down. Did it work? Did you go from angry to complete calmness? Of course not. Human brains have developed over time. We have one brain that can be essentially divided into two sections. The modern brain and the primal brain. The modern brain, the front cortex, is in charge of tasks such as memory, judgment, reasoning, problem solving, and impulse. Your primal brain, the hindbrain and medulla is your natural instincts that are responsible for survival. When someone becomes mad, your primal brain is activated and your modern brain is not as engaged. Reasoning and talking can escalate a situation. Reasoning and judgment is turned off and your brain is not thinking effectively. Medea represents a highly active primal brain. Medea has given up her family, home, and name, to dedicate herself completely to Jason. Medea and Jason both took an oath under the gods, binding them together in a relationship stronger than marriage. Jason broke that oath, abandoning Medea and setting her down a destructive path.
As a result of all the sacrifices Medea undertook for Jason, her actions can be defended by reason of insanity. Medeas given her undying loyalty, magic, and body to Jason. Jason's reputation as a successful warrior and adventure would be nothing without Medea. She has successfully saved him on multiple occasions. Jason would have never completed his quest without the help of Medea's magic and advice. Without either, Jason and the Argonauts would never have obtained the golden fleece or escaped the pursuing Aeëtes. Medea has nothing but Jason after abandoning her family and home. Medeas given up everything for the sake of Jason.
“You have this city and your father's home, enjoyment of life, and the companionship of friends, but, alone and without a city, I am abused by my husband, carried off as plunder from a foreign land, I have no mother, no brother, no relatives to offer me a safe haven from this disaster. (252-257). Jason demonstrates no indecisiveness as he abandons Medea so effortlessly. In correlation to how much Medea has done for Jason, furthermore how little he has done for her, his actions reveal how self centered Jason truly is. Medea's revenge is driven on these sacrifices.
Medea is determined to seek revenge with an eye for an eye. Medea wants to inflict Jason with the same pain he’s dealt her. By breaking his oath with Medea, Jason has abandoned Medea, leaving her with nothing. Nothing to repay Medea for all she’s sacrificed in the past. Because of Jason, Medea who came from royalty and wealth, is left poor and alone. Jason offers Medea money as he knows that Medea will be impoverished and exiled. “We will not be making use of your friends; I will not take anything from you; don't give me anything. The gift of a bad man brings no pleasure. “(615-618)
Medea's rage is fueled evermore. Medea wants no part with Jasons new life and friends. Only to take away what he’s taken from her. The refusal of the money also implies that Medea doesn't anticipate having to take care of the children. Medea kills Creon and the princess. This alienates Jason from Corinth. Leaving him just as abandoned as Medea herself.
The murder of her own children was intended to protect them. Medea understands that her children with Jason played an influential role in Jason's decision to marry the princess. An attempt by Jason to solidify his ancestry by having his sons become brothers to princess and therefore royalty. Given the circumstances that the children are boys and the time when the play was written, it makes even more sense why Medea ultimately decides to kill the children.
“MEDEA: O my children, victims of your father's evil actions!
JASON: At least it was not my hand that killed them.
MEDEA: No. It was an insult—your new marriage.”
Medea ultimately decided to kill the children to inflict pain on Jason as revenge. Yet furthermore to protect them as Medea believed they would have been killed anyway by the people of Corinth.
'This shall never be, that I should suffer my children to be the prey of my enemies insolence.' (1060). 'as quickly as I may to kill my children, and start away from this land, And not, by wasting time, to suffer my children to be slain by another hand less kindly to them.'
Medea knows that after killing the princess, she will be sought out to be punished for her actions. Medea understands that herself and the children would be threatened by the people loyal to Creon. Medea decides to swiftly and painlessly kill her children herself rather than to allow her enemies to torture them. Meades murders of the princess, Creon, and her children can all be justified by a plea of insanity and supported by her incorrupt intentions to protect the children.
“When defendants plead not guilty by reason of insanity, they are asserting an affirmative defense- that is, they admit that they have committed a criminal act, but seek to excuse their behavior by reason of mental illness that satisfies the definition of legal insanity.” (Pleading Insanity in a Criminal Case). Medea is driven by so much rage because of Jason's selfishness that her primal brain is activated. Medea has lost all reasoning and judgment. Only driven by her ultimate goal of seeking revenge on Jason. Medea can not even reason with herself when she becomes hesitant to kill her children. Only looking to satisfy her sought out revenge against Jason, she murders her beloved children. “A lord was insane because he ...doth not know what he is doing, no more than a brute or a wild beast.” ( Pleading Insanity in a Criminal Case, Historical Antecedents). Madea's survival instincts were kicked into full throttle, making her no different from a wild beast. Medea's actions can be justified completely by a plea of insanity that were entirely instigated by Jason, the root of Medea's rage.