Medea by Euripides | Plot Summary
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Published: Thu, 18 May 2017
Medea relates to real life if you watch the news and hear about ex-lovers ending their relationships with murder or suicide. Medea is willing to sacrifice everything to make her revenge perfect. Medea shows her complete necessity for revenge when she says, “anyone running between me and my justice will reap what no man wants.” Not only does she kill two children, she kills her own two innocent children, because she does not want the kids in Jason’s hands. This type of crazed revenge is seen too often in today’s society. The play Medea can be interpreted as a crazy mother who takes her heart broken anger out on her own innocent children.
At the beginning of the play, the Nurse talks about the years when Medea and Jason were in love. She mentions how she was broken by saying, “but Jason has turned from her; he calls the old bond a barbarian mating, not a Greek marriage.” Jason harshly betrays Medea and it is obvious that it is going to lead to violence and rage when Medea says, “And when I have ruined the whole of Jason’s house, I shall leave the land and flee from the murder of my Dear children, and I shall have done a dreadful deed.” Medea has set her plan to ruin Jason’s life by taking her childrens’.
Jason is very arrogant, but is he really the hero he is made up to be? Medea knows she made Jason who he is when she says, “I gave him success and fame; I saved him his precious life, not once, many times…I betrayed my father for him, I killed my brother to save him.” The reason why Jason is where he is at in his life is because of Medea. She did all the dirty work for Jason, but he repays her by running off and marrying the beautiful girl. Jason does not understand that the reason he holds power is from Medea. This arrogance is one of the reasons why Medea is so enraged at Jason.
Medea gives many hints throughout the play of her final act of retaliation. As the story progresses the need to seek revenge also builds inside of her. The initial signs of Medea’s potential behavior appear at the beginning of the play when the Nurse tells how Medea is emotionally hurt. The Nurse says, “But Medea lies in the house, broken with pain and rage; she will neither eat nor drink.” It is completely natural to want revenge on something that has stung you in the past. Medea comes right out and tells Jason that something is going to happen, “Something might happen. It is…likely…that something might happen to the bride and the marriage.” Medea bluntly tells Jason that something will happen to disrupt his marriage and she will have revenge for what Jason has done to her.
Medea showed her first signs of craziness when she killed her family members and others to get what she wanted. She offers more signs of her future behavior when she screams out in her mind about what she will do, “What I need: all dead, all dead, all dead, under the great cold stones. For a year and a thousand years and another thousand: cold as stones, cold, but noble again, proud, strait, and silent, crimson-cloaked in the blood of our wounds.” Medea wants all that have betrayed her to be dead. Even though Jason is still living, his pride and everything he had, like his children and the princess, is dead. She says that once it has all been completed she will be proud, and noble. This self-reflection is a major give away toward her crazy inner soul.
In Medea, the three Corinthian women often show signs that they are afraid of Medea. One of the Corinthian women says, “They say she is dangerous. Look at her eyes.” The women tell us that Medea is filled with crazed rage and will do something dangerous. One of the Corinthian women says, “Women hate war, but men will wage it again. Women may hate their husbands, and sons, and fathers, but women will never hate their children.” This statement says that Medea will hate her husband, but she did not hate her children even though she killed them, and this is ultimately what makes her crazy.
Medea also shows many heroic qualities, especially when she is willing to kill her own brother to be with Jason. When she kills her brother, she shows that she is willing to do whatever is necessary to get the job done. Medea has been not only cheated, but also betrayed by Jason. She will not tolerate this abuse from him and does something about it. Medea says to Creon, “You see a woman driven half mad with sorrow, laboring to save her little children.” Medea builds up enough courage to confront Jason and get revenge.
There are two main reasons why Medea decides to kill her children. The first is that she feels that it is a perfect way to complement the death of the princess in getting revenge on Jason. When she tells the chorus of the plans to kill the children, they wonder if she has the heart to kill her children, and Medea answers, “yes, for this is the best way to wound my husband.” This shows that she believes that by killing her children, she will basically ruin Jason’s life and succeed in her revenge. The second reason for Medea killing her children has nothing to do with revenge. If she left her children with Jason, they would be living in a society that would look down upon them since they do not have pure goddess origins. Since she does not want to leave her children with Jason, they really have no place else to go, “my children, there is none who can give them safety.” Medea decides that killing her children is the best way to get both revenge, and the assurance that her children are not in Jason’s hands.
Medea ends the play with her crazed mind when she stabs her two innocent kids to death. She confronts Jason with the dead children and taunts him as she walks on saying, “I do not leave my children’s bodies with thee; I take them with me that I may bury them in Hera’s precinct. And for thee, who didst me all that evil, I prophesy an evil doom.” Medea shows her craziness throughout the entire play.
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