Medea as Woman, Hero and God in Euripides' Play

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Medea as Woman, Hero and God

In Euripides' play the title role and focus of the play is the foreign witch Medea. Treated differently through the play by different people and at different times, she adapts and changes her character, finally triumphing over her hated husband Jason. She can feasibly be seen as a mortal woman, Aristotle's tragic hero figure and even as an exulted goddess.

Medea's identity as a weak woman is emphasised at the very start of the play. It is made very clear that she has come to misfortune through no fault of her own and is powerless in her problem ("her world has turned to enmity"). Being unable to change her situation is an example of her portrayal as a weak woman figure. We are told that she has been crying for days ("lies collapsed in agony"). Soon after these descriptions of her weeping, the Tutor arrives and informs us that yet more bad news is coming her way ("not heard the worst" "banish them"). At this point all the pity is directed towards Medea, shunned by her husband and unable to control what is happening around her, instead crying uncontrollably ("shouting shrill, pitiful accusations").

Behind this weak figure however, we have the warnings of the Nurse, shadowing this pity. She describes Medea's fury brewing from the grief and how powerful it is ("not relax her rage" "like a mad bull or a lioness"). Her appearance as a woman in grief is well depicted but very soon Medea emerges from the house, shaking off this grief and instead focusing on revenge. Her speech when she leaves the house gives us some evidence of her sour temper. While talking she comes across as submissive ("I accept my place") and describes the unenviable position of women in society ("we women are the most wretc...

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...tion for what they perceive to be justice.

Works Cited

Bates, William Nickerson. Euripides. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Press, 1930.

"Euripides." Image-Nation. http://www.imagi-nation.com/moonstruck/clsc4.htm

Lucas, F.L. Euripides and His Influence. NY: Cooper Square, 1963.

Euripides. "Medea." The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Ed. Sarah Lawall. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999. 642 - 672.

Hamlyn, Paul. Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology. Westbook House, Fulham Broadway, London. Paul Hamlyn Limited 1959.

McDermott, E A (1989) Euripides' Medea: The Incarnation of Disorder. Pennsylvania State University:USA

Oxford Companion to Classical Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Zissos, Professor. Classical Myth Lecture Notes. July 20, 2001. http://ccwf.cc.utexasz.edu/~paz/myth/notes.html

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