I really liked this play, and I feel the fast paced nature of the piece takes nothing away from the level of complexity. Within the tight margins of the script, I felt a strong and memorable message was still delivered, and the chorus was woven into the play in such a way that they didn’t distract from scenes but rather carried the message. I liked that, at the end of the play, the chorus asks the question, “who won” directly to the audience. It really highlights the moral question each person asks themselves once they finish the play, which is “was she completely justified in her actions?”. That question is what I find most impressive about the play. It manages to create a vivid and complex character (Medea) so quickly. Her actions in the play also force us to think of the social forces at play in the Medea’s world. What life was she subject to after Jason left her? How did society perceive an unmarried woman with two kids? Essentially, what were the social issues at play that might have made killing her own children justifiable in her eyes? I think Jason is also an interesting character. I think he had good intentions by trying to strategically give his sons connections to the throne, but he didn’t account for the life Medea would have to live without a husband, especially since Medea had already sacrificed so much for Jason. What makes Medea monstrous to me is the fact that she focuses so much of her energy on making Jason suffer for leaving her. It’s one thing to want justice for a situation in which you feel you’ve been wronged and it’s another to simply want someone to suffer. Even if it involves making herself suffer, she does everything within her power to make Jason feel broken like her. She’s obviously a resourceful woman, and there’s a chance she could have got even with Jason without having to kill her sons, but her anger is so strong that it essentially turns her into a monster.
If nothing else, I liked Medea for the fact that I could finish reading the entire thing in a single bus ride. Actually, it’s pretty good for other things too.
In the “On the Translation” page that I actually bothered to read, one of the translators mentioned that they took measures to try and limit the stream of melodrama that could easily take over a play of this nature, and I believe that they have succeeded. The play proceeds with a quick and fluid pace, never dwelling on one thing for too long or dragging out scenes of grief and conflict. The biggest reason for the refreshing lack of melodrama, however, is without a doubt the fact that the two major events (the killing of the princess and king and the killing of the children) where described to us indirectly after the deeds were done rather than forced down our throats in some kind of melodramatic scene where the king gives a long-winded speech to his dead daughter or where Medea gives a long-winded speech to her sons before she kills them. We are only given a brief description of the first event while the second is mostly left up to our imagination, thus making the play itself more than tolerable for people who would rather go sky-diving without a parachute than read a melodrama-infested piece of literature (namely, me).
That aside, the play Medea is without a doubt a tragedy. What I like about this tragedy, however, is not that Medea’s life got screwed up, or that Jason’s got screwed up, or that their kids’ lives got screwed up, or that the king and princess’ lives got screwed up – it’s that all of their lives got screwed up. A true tragedy in my opinion is one in which there are no winners and losers; one in which the catastrophe that occurs is a catastrophe for all. An even better tragedy is one where you cannot blame a single character or alliance of characters completely for the event as is definitely the case here, although who exactly triggered it is up for debate. In essence, every character that had a hand in causing the tragedy paid the price for it, even dragging a few helpless innocents along with them.
In the end, the play Medea is a play with a single concept lying at its core – trust. Had Medea trusted that Jason was only marrying the princess so that he could make and her and their children’s lives better, she wouldn’t have gone on a murderous rage. Had Jason trusted that Medea wouldn’t go on a murderous rage if he told her his plans before she found out and did exactly that, she might not have gone on a murderous rage. What happened, however, is that Jason didn’t trust Medea, and Medea, in turn, didn’t trust Jason, thus causing the tragedy to unfold. To always maintain trust with your partner, the most important aspect of a relationship, is what I believe this play is trying to show us.
Brilliant! This play presents itself in a short, simple way, but still seems to be beautifully complex. It reads like some sort of car accident; you only have a few moments to figure out what’s going on before you feel the entire force of it hit you. And then it’s over. Medea.
The clever part is that Medea herself seems to represent more then just one state of being. Yes, she is manipulative, malicious, and an emotional extremist who kills her children. But she is not without remorse, and many a time she would come into conflict with herself; wavering between thoughts of vengeance and those engrained notions of morality that everybody feels. In this course we seem to be searching out the very “human” monster. Well, here it is. The type of monster we can understand just before we recoil from. A monster that reads like a human is the most scary monster of all.
An important thing for me was how universal the struggles of Medea were. She talks of the “ceaseless work” of raising children, the “unending pain” of what was then a male dominated society. These are challenges that would continue to plague womankind for hundreds of years, and still do in many places. Although the context of Jason is noteable, (his heroism and such) you could substitute him for any other chap who is unfaithful to his wife and marries another, and the result would be pretty much the same. Jason is by no means innocent. He wronged his wife and broke his vows, but there was a certain obliviousness to how he did it, a certain transparency to his lies. In searching for a monster I looked elsewhere.
What IS different is the way that Medea reacts to her betrayal. Something here made me look at the idea of vengeance much more closely then I have before. I must have read or watched hundreds of stories where the plot is driven by revenge. Often such a story will end with a moral message that sounds something like “If you spend all your time looking for revenge, when you finally get it you won’t have anything left to fulfill you.” This type of idea usually works well when the hero has lost everything. Except Medea DID have something else. She had children she loved, she had a place to go, she probably could have pulled her life together.
For me, that is the most fascinating thing about this whole work. It wasn’t simply the act of betrayal that destroyed Medea’s life, it was her anger at such a crime. It consumed her and gave her a sort of desperation to do something, anything. He took a little bit, and she ended up taking the rest herself.
While reading Medea, I was rather intrigued by the notion of vengeance. Obviously, revenge is not a revolutionary new concept, but what captured my attention was the lengths to which one will go to attain it. I was not surprised by the bewitching of Helios’ jewelry in order to destroy Creon’s daughter, but what did confuse me was Medea’s desire to slaughter her offspring. It was brilliant to see the conflict raging inside her, with her motherly love and monstrous desire for revenge constantly drawing her back and forth. This demonstrates both the strength of the bond between a mother and child, but also the infectious quality of hatred. It is unimaginable to be in a state where one is so consumed with a raging passion that she disregards all humanly bonds.
Another aspect that I noted was the sexual deviancy pinpointed against women. It was interesting to see the females as being consumed “with the pleasures of the bed,” (54, ll 588), as in our modern society, our culture typically places this on men. This portrays the cultural beliefs of the Greek people, similar to The Odyssey, in which the sirens are seen as the evil seductresses.
There was also a distinct amount of sea imagery. The work describes raging storms, ships dropping anchor, and other nautical terms. In terms of the storm, it indefinitely refers to the state of Medea’s life, turned topsy-turvy. It may also be a representation of Medea’s mental storm; she is so engulfed with rage and hatred that it clouds perception. Her mental storm also occurs in the form of her conflict between her love for her sons and her malicious desire for vengeance.
Finally, it was interesting to see the the fragility of the human word. Medea consistently remarks at Jason’s casual ability to break the oath he made for her on their wedding day. Marriage vows are meant to be eternal, yet it appears that he is completely nonchalant towards the entire scenario.
In all honesty, I thought that this play was very strange. I appreciate the thematic values of femininity, vengeance, and betrayal, but it still left me perplexed.
After reading the epic adventures of Odysseus in The Odyssey, the shorter, more personal and more tragic Medea was quite a change of pace for me. Several things stood out at me in this play: the depiction of the female and the tragic hero Jason.
Greek society is very patriarchal. The women basically have no rights. Their husbands are chosen for them, their path is basically laid out from when they were born. In Medea though, the play shows the consequences of what happens when one is unfaithful to his wife. What makes this message more powerful is that Medea is ultimately successful in punishing Jason for his unfaithfulness because he had broken his oath to the Gods. Hence the play portrays the message that should a man betray his oath to his women, he should expect not only her curse, but divine punishment. This message is very feministic making Medea stand out from other Greek plays.
I read an abridged version of how Jason took the Golden Fleece from Daulaire’s bookof Greek Myths. What I remember is that basically Medea did most of the work once Jason got to the island of the Golden Fleece. She also sacrificed much to get him the fleece as by helping Jason, she alienated herself from her family who was in possession of the Fleece at the time. In return, Jason gave his oath to lover her. I have to say that Jason, by abandoning Medea who got him the Golden Fleece, left her home to follow him and gave him two sons basically sealed his fate when he decided to marry Creon’s daughter. I mean… what man would not want such a devoted wife? I may be harsh, but for a very short moment, I felt like telling Jason “Good riddance!” when Medea killed the Princess, for Jason basically brought his fate upon himself through one fatal mistake.
Medea also made me question on the idea of justice and how far can you take it before you become a monster. Medea’s actions, were in the Gods view, justified, proven when Helios sends chariots to take her away. I thought that killing the Princess and Creon was justified, but killing her own sons to hurt her husband? While I do think Jason indirectly caused their death and Medea’s action of killing her sons was the result, I think that it was overkill and she became monstrous in my eyes.
That’s all for now.
After reading the 485 paged Odyssey, reading “Medea” was like talking a stroll in the park after climbing up Mount Everest. Despite “Medea” being only around 40 pages long, the text itself was quite dense; some speeches contained a wealth of meaning. Unlike most tragedies that contain only one anti-hero, I felt that “Medea” had two tragic heroes. One, of course, is Medea herself. The other is her husband, Jason.
Jason doesn’t start off being very likeable; in fact, he invokes the opposite feeling from the reader. He’s a faithless husband who casts off his loyal wife of many years to marry a young, wealthy princess. He is also unfeeling enough to abandon his sons by Medea and has no qualms about Creon putting Medea and her sons into exile. The reason why I found him to be a tragic hero is because although he was cold and unfeeling in the beginning, he does develop a conscience at the end when his sons are found to be murdered at the hands of his ex-wife, Medea. One can’t help feeling a slight drop of pity for him at the end where he laments his sons and says, “If I could see them once more, I’d take them in my arms and kiss their mouths.” I had a feeling that up until his sons’ deaths, a part of him really believed that what he was doing -marrying Creon’s daughter and divorcing his wife Medea- was right. I think he really did think that his actions were for the “greater good” of his ex-wife and sons, enabling them to live a better life and enjoy preferential treatment. Again, Creon doesn’t exile Medea because Jason suggests it- rather, it was Medea’s negativity towards the fiance of Jason that rouses Creon’s paternal instincts to banish her for his daughter’s safety. When his sons died, his ambitions and former glorious world view also died. I think it was then that he realized what he did was a foolish, selfish thing- and that elicits sympathy from readers.
From a feminist point of view, Medea’s actions were completely understandable and forgivable. She is also the prominent tragic hero in the Euripides’ work. She’s the loyal wife who abandoned and betrayed her family for him, gave birth and raised his sons, and served him faithfully for years. Then she is divorced by him and sent into exile while her husband marries another younger woman. Any woman would be outraged or driven to insanity by the actions of Jason if he had been her husband, which makes Medea the object of pity in the beginning. When she commits 3 (possibly 4 if Creon is also counted) murders, the reader’s pity for her diminishes. I still personally saw her as pitiable even after the murders, but then again, that might be just me. Back in Medea’s time, a woman’s life was centered around her married life. After Jason divorced her, I think she saw that her world simply collapsed. The natural world of hers was replaced by the unnatural, where she has to support her sons and act as both father and mother to them. In an act of both desperation and revenge, she chooses to murder the princess and her sons as retaliation. She does show signs of desiring not to murder throughout the play. She is seen weeping on numerous occasions, but deep down, a part of her believed that her world was tearing apart and this was one of the only things she could do to repair it. Murdering the princess was to “get even” with Jason. After he destroyed their marriage, she destroys his ambitions. Murdering her sons was for a different purpose. Her sons were her link to Jason; a product of their marriage. By slaughtering her sons, she was symbolically “cutting all ties” with Jason before fleeing to Athens. Many people would find that despicable, but I can’t help but sympathize with her.