I found Medea to be a very interesting play. For something as short as 40 pages, it seems to have even more themes than The Odyssey to it. Don’t get me wrong (and again, this is just an opinion) but there is such a vast range of mature themes found in Medea (Passion, Revenge, Pride, Manipulation, etc.) that it almost makes The Odyssey seem like a children’s tale. Death doesn’t play near as big of a role in The Odyssey as it does in Medea, and the characters in Medea seem a lot more morally ambiguous in comparison to Odysseus, Penelope, or Telemachus.
Enough with comparisons though… let’s get into the meat and potatoes of what stood out to me in Medea.
One major thing to touch upon is the history behind this play. It was written by a man, and for the longest time, all the female characters were still played by men. For Euripedes to write lines about a character more willing to fight three wars than to give birth shows how clever he is at writing for a powerful female character. And that is what Medea is; powerful, cunning, and vengeful. In fact, one could touch upon how she seems more of a man than Jason; she’s much more intimidating, she doesn’t get to keep control of her children (which in case of divorce nowadays, it is almost unheard of for men to have custody of children under the age of 12). So what spoke to me about this play is how it really defies the history of the time; Medea doesn’t play into any of the tropes of the classic female.
Another aspect that stood out to me was the theme of pride that Medea encompassed throughout the play. Her pride drove her to make irrational decisions and drove her to cause unnecessary bloodshed. There is a tremendous sense of waste to her actions, as she fully exacts her revenge on Jason with the poisoning of Glauce and her father, and then takes the brutality a step further, beyond the bounds of myth, by slaying her own children. She has the damaged and twisted pride of a woman, condescended to for her gender and her barbaric roots, who is nonetheless superior to everyone around her. After all she has suffered, in some ways Medea is most perturbed when she is ridiculed by fools. Her pride only adds to the tragedy in this play as well, and I almost felt sorry for her actions by the end.
A really good television show that encompasses the theme of pride in Medea is “Breaking Bad”. Yes, if you know me, you’ll know that I gawk over every second of the show. But it is true; how Medea starts out as a simple character, and grows into a murderous fiend by the end, in similar ways that Walter White turns from an innocent chemistry teacher in Albuquerque into the most powerful, callous drug lord in the south-west. Pride gets the best of both of these characters, and the influence of Medea is definitely in Breaking Bad. It further proves the point that Medea is great piece of literature and I am very thankful for this course for introducing me to it among other things.
And it’ll only get better from here .