Gender Roles In Medea By Euripides
“The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. ” by Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. In the play Medea, Euripides depicts a woman that is in a “mans world”. Medea is a woman who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and will do anything to attain her goal. She is the opposite of the heroine women that are usually in plays, she is much more rugged and crude, the complete opposite of what a “woman” should be. In Medea, she seems to do anything to win over her cheating husbands love at any cost. As most women do, Medea leaves everything behind for her husband Jason, including loved ones, home, and sadly herself. In the play she murders her brother and even orchestrated a premeditated murder where she tricks King Pelias’ daughters to murder him. She blurs the lines between how a woman should be in that century with her male tendencies. Medea was doing things in that time that society would never expect for women to do, she ultimately broke the stigma of what a woman should be like in this Greek tragedy.
Medea shows her jealousy and disposition with how men get to act in society. One example is when Medea says that “of all things we women are the most unfortunate creatures,” and goes on to explain the obstacles and unfair situations women have to deal with such as “for there is not an easy escape for a woman, nor can she say no to her marriage” and how men do not have to adhere to the same rules that women have to live by. For instance, Medea feels that “what applies to me does not apply to you”. Medea seems to be irritated at the fact that men do as they please without getting judged or ridiculed for it. Medea constantly defies the perceptions of gender roles by expressing both male and female tendencies. Medea was able to separate herself from her womanly emotions at times and commit acts that society would not think a woman would be capable of doing. Although Medea did not completely abandon her femininity in the play due to her succumbing to her emotions, she still carried out a deal of her acts with the vindication and pride of a man. In the play Medea has killed her brother just to get away with Jason. It’s so distasteful as to what she would do in order to gain Jason’s love. Sadly, Jason betrays Medea and wants to leave her for King Creons daughter Glauce in order for him to fulfill his own agenda, which also sends Medea’s heart to grow colder and conspire to commit unthinkable acts. For example the thoughts begin for her to murder her own children.
The chorus sings “You will slaughter them to avenge the dishonor of your bed betrayed?” Medea sings, “O children, your father’s sins have caused your death. ” Although society should not determine what a man or woman should be in society everyone has a different view on what a desirable woman or a man is and does. In the play Jason expresses that it would be better if men 'got their children in some other way' and women didn't exist at all. Next, he emphasizes that his, 'life would have been good. ' Medea constantly expresses her opinion on the matter, 'We women are the most unfortunate creatures. ' Even though everyone has a vast amount of opinions, many of them are paradoxical, the issue isn't actually solved in the play. Jason reiterates to Medea that she is 'free to keep telling everyone he is a worthless man', which he could care less about being that he is married to Creon’s daughter he is now apart of the royal empire. In the play it reveals that men and women are not doing what they are supposed to, by not behaving as they should and more importantly if they did possibly this tragedy would have never occurred.