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MEDEA Essay, Research Paper
Title of Work: Medea
Literary Period: Classical
Type of Literature (genre): Drama/Tragedy
Euripides was born in 484 BC and took up drama at the young age of
25. At most drama competitions, however his plays came in last
place until he was about 45 or 50 years old. In his entire life,
he wrote 92 plays of which only five received first place awards
at competition. Euripides despised women. He had been married
twice to unfaithful women and had three sons. This hate of women
is shown in his work of Medea.
Author’s unique style:
Euripides’ characterization of women is considered unique in the
play Medea because the tragic Hero/ine – in this case Jason and
Medea in each one’s own sense – is done over by a woman after
cheating on her with the princess of the King of Corinth. He
places emphasis on human emotions and individual psychology in
order to help the reader produce a clear picture of the
characters. Medea features strong dramatic situations and a
stirring part for the heroine, whose attitude of feminine pride
and tradition is still popular in today’s world.
The entire play takes place on the island of Corinth in present
day Greece. Individual places such as Medea/Jason’s home, and the
palace of the king and princess are also spoken of and used in the
play. It has an ancient Greek setting as well.
Theme: “What goes around comes around.”
The theme of revenge in the sense of Medea’s strong desire to seek
revenge on Jason.
Another possible theme of Medea may be that at times a punishment
of revenge should justify the crime – no matter how severe. Only
a person in such a situation (and greater beings) may know what to
action to take in this position.
Medea – The strong willed woman who would do anything for her
husband is victimized by him and turns deadly. After going to a
great extent to help Jason – killing people to be with him and
married to him – he turns around and marries a younger princess
and leaves Medea and their two children with nothing. This deeply
angers Medea – her tragic flaw appears to be an over excessive
sense of revenge – who goes absolutely berserk and kills the
princess and her children to get back at Jason for leaving her.
She is very decisive and intelligent and had thought through her
actions against Jason before carrying them out.
Jason – The Husband of Medea who leaves her for another woman -
the King of Corinth’s daughter – claiming it would be better for
both Medea and their children if he “got in good with the king”.
Jason obviously is not caring about his wife who actually killed
to be with him. He does however still love his children. His
flaw of apathy or the fact that he is not perseverant causes his
downfall when Medea has his wife (the princess) murdered as well
as his children. This causes Jason to be extremely disturbed -
but it is deserved.
King Aegeus – The present King of Athens who is very sympathetic.
He is friends with Medea and understands her problem. He tells
her that she may come to Athens and seek refuge if she pleases.
He has no children and asks if she will “provide him with some”.
In this sense, he is a jolly fellow who assists friends in time of
need. He also provides Medea with a place to go and be protected
after she goes on her killing rampage.
Nurse – The Nurse plays a somewhat minor role and yet influences
the story of Medea. She is employed by Medea to look after the
children but the Nurse also gossips and provides advice and
assistance to Medea. She provides the audience with background
information on the play and puts pieces together of the “big
picture.” The Nurse begs Medea to not do anything rash because of
Jason but says that she knows Medea will so that foreshadows the
though of tragedy in the play. She also sympathizes Medea but as
soon as Medea is not looking, the Nurse criticizes her as being
somewhat over reactive.
King Creon – King Creon finds disfavor on Medea for many reasons.
Most of all he believes she may decide to kill his daughter out of
? “O God, do you hear it, this persecution, these my sufferings
from this hateful woman, this monster, murderess of children?
Still what I can do that I will do: I will lament and cry upon
heaven, calling the gods to bear me witness how you have killed my
boy prevent me from touching their bodies or giving them burial.
I wish I had never begot them to see them Afterward slaughtered by
you.”- Page 46 Jason crying out to Medea who had killed their two
children to revenge what Jason had done to Medea (cheated on
her). This quote exhibits the idea of a tragic hero. Jason, in
other stories is by far a hero; a common practice amongst Greeks
is to have more than one wife. Medea goes overboard and kills
Jason’s other life and the two children he and Medea had. This
quote shows his misery over the loss of his children.
? “Do not, O my heart, you must not do these things! Poor
heart, let them go, have pity upon the children.” – Page 34 Medea
here is showing her frustration over whether or not to kill her
children to seek revenge on Jason. This exhibits Medea’s internal
? “Zeus in Olympus is the overseer of many doings. Many things
the gods achieve beyond our judgement. What we thought is not
confirmed and what we thought not god contrives. And so it
happens in this story.” – Page 47 This quote from the Chorus
exhibits the theme of the play Medea that the gods only know what
is best and that at times what may seem absurd and excessive may
actually be the best possible thing for a person.
Tragedy – a play, novel, or other narrative depicting serious and
important events, in which the main character comes to an unhappy
An example of tragedy is the work Medea by Euripides in which a
woman who is angry with her husband for leaving her so she kills
the woman he left her for and also kills her own two children she
had with Jason to seek revenge on him for leaving her. In this
way, two tragic heroes exist. Medea – in this story may be the
tragic hero, sacrificing her two children for revenge on Jason.
Jason as well may be considered the tragic hero from former
stories because he loses his wife, “girlfriend,” and children.
Tragic hero – the main character in a traditional tragedy, h/she
is usually dignified, courageous and often high ranking. The
tragic hero usually wins some self-knowledge and wisdom, although
he or she suffers defeat possibly even death.
Medea can be considered to have two tragic heroes. Medea – in
this story may be the tragic hero, sacrificing her two children
for revenge on Jason. Jason as well may be considered the tragic
hero from former stories because he loses his wife, “girlfriend,”
and two children.
Internal conflict – a struggle between opposing needs desires, or
emotions with a single character.
Medea is indecisive whether to kill her two children to achieve
revenge on Jason or that she loves them enough not to sacrifice
them. She eventually comes to the decision that her children
should be killed in order to revenge Jason for what he did to her.
Medea, a play written by the ancient Greek dramatist Euripides is
a classic tragic play in which the tragic heroine suffers after
gaining the knowledge she has been searching for. Medea, the
tragic heroine, takes revenge on her husband whom she had
practically killed for to be with, after he “cheats” on her with a
princess. The theme of the classical drama could be stated as
“what goes around; comes around.” It takes place on the island of
Corinth – a place in Greece – about fifth century BC. The play,
rather brief, shows that the author’s experiences with women
carried over into his writings as well as his life.
The play opens with Medea’s Nurse indirectly giving background
information to the story about to unfold. It is quickly
understood by the audience that Jason, the husband of Medea, for
whom she disowned her family and had killed for, has left her for
the King of Corinth (Creon’s) daughter – a beautiful princess.
Medea is outraged by this and is set on seeking revenge on him.
King Creon tells Medea that she will be exiled from the island of
Corinth because he fears for the safety of his daughter. Medea,
however, does not want to leave. She comes to an agreement with
King Aegeus – King of Athens – where she will be able to seek
refuge in the city-state of Athens after her exile from Corinth.
He extends his hospitality to her quite generously. By this time,
Medea has become to formulate a plan to seek revenge on Jason.
Medea’s plan is to kill Jason’s new bride and his two children she
had bore for him and then flee for Athens. The chorus tries to
console Medea and tell her not to do such horrid things to other
people particularly her children. Medea ignores their request and
is stuck with the decision of whether or not to kill her
children. She loves them and does not want to but she knows she
must kill them to get back at her husband who had wronged her
though she had done so much for him.
She goes through with the act of killing Jason’s new bride -
Medea’s children bring her a poisoned gown, which also ends up
killing the King of Corinth. – And then faces the tough act of
murdering her own children who she loves dearly. She does the
awful deed and refuses to allow Jason access to their bodies to
bury them or the ability to say goodbye to them. Ah_ Sweet
This story follows the usual Greek tragedy plot and story line and
Euripides conveys his idea of a woman well. The concept of a
dominant female is still applicable in today’s world. Medea is
still a popular story today because of this. The theme may not be
one, which is “good” – that of revenge – but in the case of Medea
it works well.
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