Medea: A Loving Mother

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The Greek playwright, Euripides, is considered one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens. His individuality is attributed to the way he “pushes to the limits of what an audience can stand” . His masterpiece Medea , a fascinating classic centered on the Greek goddess Medea, is a prime example of this. During his time, Euripides was unpopular since he defied the commons themes of tragedies during the 430s B.C.E.; he instead introduced a nihilistic and disturbing tragedy focused on women, slaves and persons from the lower class. His mastery shines through as he guides the audience to sympathize with Medea even when she commits filicide, a seemingly horrendous act. He utilizes the Chorus, the Nurse, and the Children-which are all minor characters-to induce compassion for Medea, establish the development of her emotional state, and ascertain the importance of her pride. Although these characters guide the audience towards similar concepts, they represent a contradiction when it comes to the slaughter of the Children.
The Chorus in Medea consists of middle-aged Corinthian women who are present on-stage throughout the entire play. They defy their customary purpose of solely observing, and instead in Medea, they give their opinion on the events of the production and directly speak to the characters. For an instance, they warn Jason by saying: “you are acting wrongly in thus abandoning your wife” (p. 34). In this quotation, they voice the audience’s thoughts and feelings, while foreshadowing the consequences of the events.
The Nurse also shares a similar role with the Chorus. In Medea, Euripides uses the Nurse to introduce Medea and give an introduction to the play. The Nurse is the first character to appear; subsequently, sh...

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...help the audience feel compassionate, understand Medea’s emotional development, and her sense of pride. Although these characters are presented separately, generally they support each other although they represent different sides of views on the Children’s murder. Euripides, using these characters, transforms the play into a representative symbol of freedom and power. Medea is represented as a loving mother who was only forced to murder her children. Thus Euripides turns a story of jealousy and betrayal, to a play which represents fundamental human emotions.

Works Cited

The Cambridge History of Classical Literature I: Greek Literature, P.Easterling and B.Knox (ed.s), Cambridge University Press (1985), page 339
All references to Medea are from Euripides, Medea and Another Plays translated by Philip Vellacott, Harmonsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1963.

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