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Euripide`S Medea Essay, Research Paper



I see Medea as a woman who took a chance and stood up for herself. The kind of behavior that Medea displays was very rare for these times: she doesn’t accept the dramatic change in her life; she does something about it. On the other hand, Medea becomes so obsessed she loses herself to revenge. Medea is only heroic to an extent.

Medea’s thirst for revenge begins when she finds out about her husbands unfaithfulness. Medea’s husband Jason decides to marry the princess Glauce to establish a position of power in Corinth. Jason claims he did it so Medea and their two sons could have better lives. Jason fails to tell Medea of his plans. Medea, who has committed her life to Jason, is enraged when she finds out. Rather than accept Jason’s betrayal and her own humiliation, she vows revenge.

Here is where Medea is heroic and clever. Medea says just the right words to plead her case to Creon. Medea set her plan for revenge in motion when King Creon comes to exile her from Corinth.

Medea: This one day let me stay to settle some plan for my two sons, since their own father is not concerned to help them. Show some pity: you are a father too you should feel kindly toward them. For myself, exile is nothing. I weep for them; their fate is very hard.

Creon: I’m no tyrant by nature. My soft heart has often betrayed me; and I know it’s foolish of me now; yet none the less, Medea, you shall have what you ask. But take this warning: if tomorrow’s holy sun finds you or them inside my boundaries, you die. That is my solemn word. Now stay here, if you must, this one day. You can hardly in one day accomplish what I am afraid of. (Page 27 – 28)

Medea tries to appeal to his softer, weaker side by asking him to have pity on her sons; and does so successfully. King Creon states he is foolish for allowing Medea to stay that one-day, but he only does so because he believed Medea could not harm him in one day. Creon underestimates Medea. Medea only needed one day to accomplish her revenge. This is where Medea’s plan starts to take shape.

Medea then successfully convinces Jason that she has gotten over his infidelity and she forgives him and wants to prove this by giving the princess a gift. Medea’s gifts (which are delivered by her two sons) are laced in poison (acid); she successfully kills the princess and the king, the poison burns the flesh off of them. This act is barbaric but somewhat heroic. Medea takes a serious chance when she kills the king and his daughter; she does this with out real concern for her life, revenge is more important. But Medea’s reasons for this act are understandable.

To further injure Jason, Medea kills their two sons, and doesn’t allow Jason to touch them. This is a barbaric act and I do not consider this heroic. To kill someone you don’t care about is one thing but to kill your own flesh and blood, the children you gave birth to is far beyond understandable. This is where I think Medea has totally lost herself.

Medea: Hurl at me what names you please! I’ve reached your heart; and that is right.

Jason: You suffer too; my loss is yours no less.

Medea: It is true; but my pain’s a fair price, to take away your smile.

(Page 59)

Medea’s love for Jason has crossed over that thin line to hate and she was willing to do anything to make Jason hurt the way she hurt. At this point she loathed Jason more than she loved her children. Medea decided she would rather live with the death of her children (by her own hand) than to see Jason happy another day in his life.

Medea is a story that we can identify with today and for many more years to come. Medea was a strong fearless woman who was pushed over the edge by broken oaths; she sacrificed her life for Jason and in turn he dishonored her. Medea was heroic for standing up for herself, extreme, but this was the kind of woman she was; but the barbaric slaying of her children, by her own hand, keeps her from being known as a true heroine.

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