In the exodos, Euripides presents Medea as a largely horrifying and appalling character. Medea is clearly motivated by her desire for revenge, making it difficult for the audience to sympathise with her.
However, in many respects she fits the image of a tragic hero. Although it is controversial to associate Medea with heroic qualities in modern times, from an ancient Greek perspective her actions and personality match aspects of the tragic hero such as consistency, nobilityand appropriateness. Her only flaw is that she is driven by revenge, which ultimately leads to her downfall.
Medea’s decision to kill her own children can be seen as a logical outcome from her character and her tragic flaw.
Medea is known for being vengeful and Euripides portrays her as such from the very beginning. In the first episode, Medea is shown to be deeply hurt by Jason’s abandonment and she openly declares her desire for revenge. Medea even attempts to take revenge by poisoning Creon, Glauce and herself, however this fails as Aegeus manages to save them in time (Eur. Med. 1224-1307).
In this essay, I’ll examine whether her exodos appearance as well as her actions in other situations warrant her tragic hero status. Medea has a long history of integrity and high society standing. She personifies the idea that she is a grand-daughter of the Sun since she was a Princess of Colchis. Furthermore, Medea was a Princess of Colchis and had extensive knowledge regarding enchantments and medicine. When Jason deserts her in an unfamiliar country, she becomes a “stateless refugee,” which damages her pride.
Medea’s status as a women in a patriarchal society is also significant. Medea is an outsider in Greece and she is not fully integrated into the social structure. She is considered to be a barbarian and her skills are devalued. Medea is further isolated by her gender; as a woman she has no political power and little social standing. Medea’s tragic flaw is her uncontrolled anger which leads her to commit terrible crimes.
Her display of uncontrolled anger begins long before the play opens. When Medea was betrayed and abandoned by Jason, she took terrible revenge on him by killing his new wife and father-in-law. The Chorus initially condemns Medea for these murders, but later they begin to feel sympathy for her.
Medea’s killing of her own children is the final straw. Even the Chorus, who have been sympathetic to her up until this point, turn against her. Medea’s actions are motivated by her desire for revenge against Jason. She believes that by killing his children she will inflict the deepest pain possible on him.
Euripides presents Medea as a tragic hero in many ways. She is an outsider in Greek society, she has a tragic flaw, and she commits terrible crimes out of anger and frustration. However, Medea’s status as a woman in a patriarchal society makes her different from other tragic heroes. Her gender prevents her from having any real power or social standing. Medea’s story is a tragedy not just for her, but for all women who suffer from discrimination and lack of power.
‘Of all pains and sufferings, none is worse than being deprived of one’s native country,’ it was said by the Chorus in the play.’ [L. 651-652] It appears horrible for her to be overlooked and homeless in a foreign place, according to the words such as ‘pains and difficulties’ which state her dramatic position through a accumulation of two similar meanings. The term ‘deprived’ implies that Jason has almost taken her property physically away from her.
Medea’s problem is that she cannot return home as her father has been exiled. The MEDEA is one of the most shocking, harrowing and controversial plays ever written. Medea’s revenge involves murdering her own children. Is this a justifiable act? Does Medea kill her sons?
Euripides was a great believer in the power of the individual. Medea is an excellent example of an individual who takes matters into her own hands, without concern for the established social order. This is shown very clearly in Medea’s outrageous decision to murder her own children. Medea knows that this act will cause great pain to Jason, but she does not care. She is determined to have her revenge, no matter what the cost.
Medea is a complex character who is capable of both great love and great hatred. In the play, we see her love for her children, but we also see her complete lack of concern for their welfare. Medea’s primary concern is always herself. She is a selfish character who is driven by her own needs and desires.
Medea’s decision to murder her children is an extreme act, but it is not without justification. Medea has been wronged by Jason and she wants to make him pay. Medea’s act of revenge is brutal and shocking, but it does provide some satisfaction for the audience. We can sympathise with Medea’s situation, even if we do not approve of her actions.
Atreus, in particular, doesn’t suffer any detrimental effect from his terrible act of revenge. Similarly, while Medea loses face when Jason leaves her, Atreus’ reputation takes a hit when his wife commits adultery. Nonetheless, Atreus later takes care of his brother’s illegitimate son. This is opposed to Medea, who does not feel remorse for what she has done. Her guilt does not exist.
The reason for Medea’s crime is her unquenchable thirst for revenge. Medea’s conception of justice does not match the standards of society. In Medea’s opinion, it is just to make Jason experience the same pain that she is feeling. The tragedy Medea by Euripides shows that desire for revenge can cloud one’s judgment and lead to horrible actions.
She also appears to be pleased with her crime, employing cynical and sardonic tactics while denying Jason’s accusations in stichomythia: ‘Go home; your wife awaits burial.’ The idea of a would-be spouse for Jason is highly malicious and tactless, as she previously murdered his children. After discovering the bodies of his children, Jason has a brief but vicious quarrel with Medea in the exodos.
Medea is unapologetic and instead mocks Jason, labelling him a ‘useless coward’. Medea’s sorrow does not last for long as she has to flee Corinth immediately after the murders. Medea’s quick departure signifies her lack of remorse as she knows that if she stayed, she would face severe punishment. Medea is content with her decision to kill her children as opposed to living without them in a world full of pain and hurt. Medea believes that it is better for her children to be dead than to live without their mother.