Attributes Traditionally Associated with Masculinity and Femininity and Their Contrasts in Medea and Pygmalion

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Medea is a character existing outside of the typical Greek value and social systems that existed in the Greek Polis’s at the time of the play’s inception. She is strong willed, powerful, intelligent, cunning, volatile and independent. She possesses many traits and characteristics reserved and associated with Greek heroes in other plays common at the time. It could be possible to assume that a typical Greek audience of the time (likely predominantly male) would find this character absurd and ridiculous. The reason for this is that Medea is a woman and as such would not be regarded as capable of such action and thought that she displays in this play. What makes her credible is the fact that she is foreign. By not being a citizen of a polis she has grown up outside of Greek society, which was believed to the only civilized. Because of this her malice and scorn can be explained by her barbarism, “I am the mother of your children. Whither can I fly, since all Greece hates the barbarian?" Her femininity was also be pacified by being played by a male actor, but perhaps most significantly Medea was written by a man. Euripides could be guilty of being too modern for his time, quite possibly explained by the later success of Medea after his death. He applied a focus on the realism of his character and created a realistic woman with recognizable emotions. She is neither hero nor villain and exists outside the pre-established constructs of character in Greek tragedy. It could be possible to therefore view the play as being one of the first feminist plays as some regard it, however, I believe otherwise. What made it acceptable to a Greek audience was that it displayed how a Barbarian woman allowed to grow to be strong like an archetypal Hero from Greek mythology was not capable of dealing with that power and would ultimately hurt herself as-well-as those around her because women are guided more by their emotions than their heads. Medea is an experiment to prove to the...
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