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Medea’s Madness

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In the classical age, women were expected to be meek and powerless creatures, and when they were not they were usually considered to be hysterical. Medea’s strength is portrayed as her madness as she takes control and decides the fate of her enemies. Medea breaks that rule in the manifestation of the madness that poisons her mind. Medea has left everything to be with Jason, she has even gone as far as forsaking her father and murdering her brother in order to leave with Jason, “Oh, my father! Oh my country! In what dishonor / I left you, killing my own brother for it” (164-65). This perhaps should have been a red flag for Jason in realizing how she killed her own flesh and blood and should have been an indicator for the evil that resided within her. Medea is in Jason’s turf and here she is considered a foreigner, she now defines herself via her marriage to Jason. Ultimately, when she loses him to a younger bride, she also loses her ability to be rational in her thinking. Euripides allows Medea to have a voice, and thus, gives insight into how what is happening affects her psyche.
Medea’s madness spirals out of Jason’s actions to marry the young daughter of Kreon, who is the princess of Corinth. This leaves Medea in despair and those around her fear for her children. The nurse exclaims:
Go indoors, children. That will be the best thing…
Don’t bring them near their mother in her angry mood.
For I’ve seen her already blazing her eyes at them
As though she meant some mischief and I am sure that
She’ll not stop raging until she has struck someone. (89-94)
The nurse believes that she may harm the children and foreshadows their actual death. After she hears Medea cursing her sons she tries to sway Medea to more logical train of thoug...

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... powerful, manipulative, and extremely smart, yet because she is a woman she has limited social power. She has no chance of being a hero because she acts out of hurt in her marriage and love turned to hate. In Aeschylus’ Oresteia, Agamemnon also kills his child, although it is not praised, he is still considered a hero after his death. Medea is portrayed as being a selfish and ruthless woman, making her unnatural. Nevertheless, the audience finds themselves uncomfortably admiring Medea and her strength as a woman. Medea’s madness portrays how one’s emotions can lead to detrimental results rather than using reason. She is driven by her desire for revenge and will stop at nothing to burn her husband Jason as he did her.

Works Cited

Lawall, Sarah N. “Medea.” The Norton Anthology of Western Literature. 8th ed. Vol. 1. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. 690-720. Print.
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