"Medea" Analysis: Examining the Rationalization of a Tragic Heroine
Is Medea justified in her actions? (essay)
The Ancient Greek tragedy play "Medea" by Euripides tells the story of the betrayed and vengeful Medea, who takes extreme measures to seek justice after her husband Jason marries the daughter of Creon for social status. In this "Medea" analysis essay, I will examine the character of Medea and her motivations for committing the heinous act of murdering her own children. While some may argue that her actions were unjustified, I will present several points that support the justification of Medea's actions in the play.
The Nurse began to foreshadow a fight that would begin with Medea. Medea’s plea to the Chorus, she said that Jason be made to suffer for the suffering he has inflicted upon her as a woman. In the beginning, before the plea, the Nurse had already begun to enlighten the audience with Medea’s murderous past. Her desire for Jason led to her slaughtering her own father and brother. The development of this information gives us (the audience) insight on that she would stop at nothing to be with him.
Medea was so full of hatred, all she wanted was for Jason to feel the same way she felt – and she was correct on her behalf. While she does not think rationally throughout the play, she makes her decisions out of resentment and hostility. She began to cry out to the gods for reasoning, she begun to spout out different reasoning of why she should take revenge into her hands. Jason had broken an oath, “the promise sealed with his right hand (the greatest pledge there is)” - she calls to the gods, the enforcers of oaths, to witness only how well Jason has repaid her. This broken oath was another justification by Medea and the Nurse that Jason should take full responsibility for her irrational behaviors and thoughts for his betrayal to her. The betrayal has given her a misconstrued idea to punish him. He never acknowledges the seriousness of her emotional state, which advertised his selfishness to her. This betrayal solely led to Medea’s emotional plan of revenge.
Additionally, she already had a hard time coping in society without her husband’s presence; the role of women during the ancient, Greek era was very low compared to men. Women were forced to become their husbands’ possessions in marriage, endure the pains of childbirth and kept from public life. As Medea is already overwhelmed with the low lifestyle of Ancient Greek women, she becomes more frustrated with Jason deciding to leave her for a new wife. These are two major justifications for her outrage. A person can only handle so much at a time before breaking so when you have city people at you for just being a woman and for performing ridiculous tasks just to be with the man of your dreams, who eventually leaves you astray with two kids, you tend to begin to have unruly thoughts.
While Medea loved her children, her hatred for Jason was too strong to ignore. She has become overcome with the idea of murdering her kids that she bore with Jason and Jason’s new wife so he could bore no more. She states, “Aaaah! The pain that I’ve suffered so much, worth oceans of weeping. O children, accursed, may you die- with your father! Your mother is hateful. Go to hell, the whole household! Every last one”. Here, you can really understand the pain that she was going though because of she has been living in exile with her children. She had plans to take everything from him. Everything that he cherished and loved the most. This was Medea’s ultimate plan for revenge that she believed was justified by his actions. With these feelings of conflict and the Nurse’s agreement, Medea decided to make a choice even if the consequences are irreversible.
Are Medea’s actions justified? As I mentioned before, Medea acted out the way she did for the purpose of revenge against her husband. She took full responsibility and accepted her near future consequences that could tarnish her reputation as a daughter, mother, sister and wife. These choices of hers would ruin her as a human being and woman. Her choices were based off internal and external conflict that she was battling – her husband betraying her and with her emotions and sense of injustice and revenge. The reasoning behind Medea’s actions makes the justification so clear. She put her trust into Jason and he still betrayed her. Jason was so into his self and power that he left Medea only for the sole purpose of his status. Marrying the daughter of Creon meant he was marring into more power and it gave him a renewed as he once had with Medea. This status of being higher on the social ladder in the Greek community was worth his betrayal to her for him. This left her feeling mournful and dishonored.
Overall, Medea’s actions are just because of Jason’s selfishness in the way that he betrayed her. Medea was clearly very hurt and felt dishonored as his wife and mother of his kids. This betrayal influencing her to commit cruel actions on herself; that eventually inflicted upon Jason. Some may believe that Jason did not deserve this punishment but I disagree and call it bad karma.