Essay on Comparing Women's Revenge in The Oresteia and Medea

Essay on Comparing Women's Revenge in The Oresteia and Medea

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Comparing Women's Revenge in The Oresteia and Medea


Clytaemnestra and Medea are two women who are seeking justice for a wrong committed by their husbands. Clytaemnestra?s husband, Agamemnon, did not wrong here directly but rather indirectly. Agamemnon sacrificed their daughter Iphigeneia, in order to calm the Thracian winds. For Clytaemnestra this brought much hatred towards Agamemnon. Here Agamemnon had betrayed Clytaemnestra and their daughters trust, and for that she sought revenge. Medea's husband, Jason, had dishonored her with his unfaithfulness. Medea sought to kill everything that was important in Jason's life in order to seek justice. Clytaemnestra and Medea are similar but yet different in the ways that they define justice, setup up their victims, carry out the just sentence and in the end justify their actions.

Clytaemnestra feels the only justice for the death of her daughter, Iphigeneia, is the death of Agamemnon. ?Act for an act, wound for wound!? is the only justification that Clytaemnestra cans see (Agamemnon 1555). Medea also sees death as the only justification for her husbands? unfaithfulness. ?To stay here, and in this I will make dead bodies / Of three of my enemies, -father, the girl and my husband?(Medea 370-71). Medea says here that she wishes to kill Kreon, the father of the princess Jason will wed, the princess and Jason. Although she never kills Jason, she does successfully kill Kreon and the princess. Medea later says that she must also kill her children to cause Jason pain. In their defining justice Clytaemnestra and Medea both feel death is the only justice. However, with Medea she does not intend to kill Jason.

In order for Clytaemnestra to seek justice for her daughters? death, she had...


... middle of paper ...


...eir victims but they do not carry out the sentences entirely in the same way. Clytaemnestra mostly uses brute force where Medea uses her knowledge of poison to do the major damage. In the end though, Medea does use brute force to kill her children. One thing is left to question, could Medea have brought this pain to Jason without killing her children? I do not believe so. Jason, seems to be most troubled by the death of his children than he does of either Kreon or the princess? death.

Works Cited

Aeschylus. The Oresteia. Agamemnon. Trans. Robert Fagles. Lawall 1: 521- 566.

Euripides. Medea. Trans. Rex Warner. Lawall 1: 642 ? 672.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heros. New York: Warner Books, 1969.

Lawall, Sarah and others, eds. The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. 7th ed. 2 vols. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1999.

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