Jason and Medea Ponders

Published: 2021-10-10 01:40:15
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In ‘Medea’, Euripides shows Medea in a new light, as a scorned woman that the audience sympathises with to a certain extent, but also views as a monster due to her act of killing her own children. The protagonist of a tragedy, known as the Tragic Hero is supposed to have certain characteristics which cause the audience to sympathise with them and get emotionally involved with the plot. The two main characters, Medea and Jason, each have certain qualities of the Tragic Hero, but neither has them all.
This makes them more like the common man that is neither completely ood nor evil, but is caught in the middle and forced to make difficult decisions. Euripides’ ‘Medea’ is a play based on the myth of Jason and the Argonauts. The play was originally performed around 431 BC and was written as a part of the festival of Dionysius. In the play, Euripides deviated from the classic tragedy to show the psychological workings of a woman, Medea. Medea was a well known fgure to the audience of Greece at this time.
Until this play was written, she was never viewed in a monstrous light. In the play ‘Medea’, Euripides has taken the well known myth about Medea, but changed the ending and shown the story from her perspective. In the original story, it is the people of Corinth that kill her children; however, in the play, Euripides has made her kill her own children. The protagonist of a typical Greek tragedy generally has the following attributes; hubris , hamartia , anagnorisis , nobility, and a tragic demise caused by their own mistake or a punishment sent by the gods.
Both Jason and Medea come from noble backgrounds as according to myth, Medea is a princess of Colchis, and Jason is the rightful heir to the throne of lolcus. Medea helped him retrieve the Golden Fleece, but we see that it is his hamartia that he does not value everything she does to help him and out of greed for the throne of Corinth he has “made the royal alliance in which [he] now live[s]” (19) Yet, it is hard to see him as the hero as Medea point out his cowardice, “If you were not a coward, you would not have married behind my back, but discussed it with me first. (19) Medea’s hamartia appears to be her intense passion for Jason, which led her to leave everything for his sake, and then to hate him so bitterly and pursue her unimaginable plans for revenge. She helped him in every way possible in his quest for the Golden Fleece, “Her heart on fire with passionate love for Jason… But now there’s hatred everywhere. Love is diseased. ” (1) However, in a tragedy, the hero is supposed to make a single mistake which ultimately leads to their downfall.
In this case, Medea is not a heroic character as she is a sorceress, murders her brother, and her own children. The hamartia is intended to bring down a character of high morality, but Medea can be viewed as a wholly evil character who is not guided by any moral principles. She is also manipulative and deceptive in the way that she reats the men around her, Creon, Aegeus, and Jason, while involving them in her plan for revenge. Euripides has shown this aspect of her personality through lines such as “Do you think that I would have fawned on that man unless I had some end to gain or profit in it? (12) and “by a trick I may kill the kings daughter” (25) Medea and Jason botn partially snow anagnorisis: Medea’s moment ot anagnorisis occur in the beginning of the play when she realizes that it was a mistake to have killed her own brother for Jason’s sake. She recognises that she is left with nowhere to go “Oh my father! Oh my country! In what dishonour I left you, killing my own brother for it. “(6) However, she does not recognise the misery she has brought upon herself by killing her children, nor does she see the wrong in murdering innocent people.
At the end of the play, Jason realises that Medea is evil, “Now I see it plain… you, an evil thing” (43) However, at no point in the play does he accept that he is also at fault for the children’s death by betraying her. The aspect of the tragic hero that isn’t met at all by either character is a tragic demise. In the end, neither of them dies. Medea not nly lives, but she escapes to Athens “in a chariot drawn by dragons” (43) Euripides has used this ending of the play to show a world where evil can escape without punishment while the innocent suffer.
This is another place where his play is unlike a typical Greek drama, as usually someone such as the Gods or the Furies intervene for punishment. In this case, it is a God who helps her escape, mfou will never touch me with your hand, such a chariot has Helius, my father’s father, given me to defend me from my enemies. ” (43) Jason is shown to be selfish and uncaring as in the beginning, hile he is well off, he is willing to “put up with it that his children should suffer so” (3) and to let them live in exile. We see his hypocrisy when they are dead and he calls out “Oh, children I loved! (46) Medea points this out “Now you would speak to them, now you would kiss them. Then you rejected them” (46) This makes it easier to sympathise with Medea as she is consistent throughout and only acts this way because she was deeply hurt. As she says, “Is love so small a pain, do you think, for a woman? ” (44) She is not the soulless murderer that Jason makes her out to be and t oints in the play she does show some reluctance towards killing her children, and her love for them “Why should I hurt their father with the pain they feel, and suffer twice as much of pain myself?
No, no, I will not do it. I renounce my plans. ” (34) However, her hubris comes in the way as she decides “Do I want to let go my enemies unhurt and be laughed at for it? I must face this thing. ” One of her motivations for killing her children is also that their death is inevitable; she reveals this when she says “This shall never be, that I should suffer my children to be the prey of my nemies’ insolence. ” (34) She also shows that she loves them when she says “Force every way will have it they must die, and since this must be so, then I their mother, shall kill them…
This one short day be forgetful of your children, afterward weep; for even though you will kill them, they were very dear – Oh, I am an unhappy woman! ” (40) This dialogue makes her seem more humane, and arouses pity in the audience as they see her dilemma, and struggle to follow through with her task. Although the audience does sympathise with her, at the end of the day to murder ne’s children is an unforgivable act which is why the audience still views her as a monster. The tragic hero should ideally be someone who suffers because of a mistake.
Initially, she suffers due to Jason, but in her act of killing her children, she is bringing suffering upon herself as a part of a calculated plan for revenge. Jason on the other hand does suffer because of his hamartia. He betrays Medea, and in order to take revenge on him, she kills his children and bride, and leaves without the political power he had hoped to achieve in marrying Glauce. In his final outcry, “O God, do you near it, this persecution, these my sutterings trom this natetul woman, this monster, murderess of children? (46) The audience feels some sympathy for him, as he has nothing left, but still looks at him as the one at fault for treating Medea so badly. The play ‘Medea’ does not have a tragic hero, as neither of the characters fits the mould, however if anyone is to be viewed as the tragic hero, it would be Medea as she is the main character and both the audience and the chorus sympathise more with her suffering. Word count: 1445 Works Cited Euripides, Medea, New York City, USA: Dover Publications Inc. , 1993. pnnt.

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