The binary oppositions in Euripides plays, Medea and Bacchae, emphasize the structural techniques seen throughout both of the plays works are “[described as] a pair of theoretical opposites or thematic contrasts” (Marvin 1). The themes are highly symmetrical throughout and typical of the structure of Greek tragedies. Euripides use of thematic antithesis gives greater irony within Greek plays. The gender roles of female and male challenge the traditional stereotypical roles as observed in Greek society, and when those roles are crossed or blurred, the rational becomes irrational and the order of civilized Greek society itself falls into disorder.
Euripides manipulates the characters, through contrast, to explore or challenge Greek society’s gender roles of female and male behavior through the stereotypes that are established within his plays. In the play Medea, we observe the protagonist challenging the traditional patriarchal system of Greek society and empowering herself throughout the play using the stereotype of feminine behavior in order to manipulate the males (Barlow 163) We observe this through her manipulation of King Creon. The king states, “I order you to go from this land”[;] she then is able to manipulate the king, successfully, for another day (272). The empowerment through this exchange is viewed when the king states, “[W]hy are you applying force, refusing to release my hand?” (339) This line is the first sign of Medea taking control of her destiny, no longer allowing the males to determine it for her. As Barlow points out, “Medea’s ability to “[dissociate] herself not just with women’s stereotypes as they are commonly accepted by women as well as men, but more impor...
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...destruction behind. His use of binaries oppositions emphasizes the tragedy of his characters and those around them.
Barlow, Shirley.”Stereotyped and Reversal in Euripides’ Medea.” Greece& Rome 2nd ser. 36.2 (1989):158-71. Print.
Euripides. Bacchae. Ed and trans. Stephen Esposito. Euripides: Four Plays: Medea, Hippolytus, Heracles, Bacchae. Newburyport, MA: Focus, 2004. 203-67. Print
Euripides. Medea. Trans. A. J. Podlecki. Euripides: Four Plays: Medea, Hippolytus, Heracles, Bacchae. Ed. Stephen Esposito. Newburyport, MA: Focus, 2004. 35-92. Print
Hamilton, Carole L. “An overview of the Medea.” Drama for Students. Detroit: Gale. Literature Resource Center. Web. 13 Aug. 2010.
Marvin, Corey. “Understanding Binary Oppositions in Literature.” Class Handout; English 101. Cerro Coso Community College, 2010. Print
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