English Medea Essay

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“It is impossible to take sides at the end of the play; both Medea and Jason are equally guilty. Is it possible to feel sympathy for either of them?”

Medea is the tragic story of a woman desperate for revenge upon her husband, after he betrayed her for another woman’s bed. It was written by Euripides, a Greek playwright, in 431 B.C. Throughout the play each character shows us their inconsistent and contradicting personalities, in particular, Jason and Medea. The play opens with the Nurse expressing her anxiety about Jason betraying and leaving Medea for another, wealthier, woman. Our initial reaction is to feel empathetic towards Medea, who has been abandoned so conveniently. But towards the end of the play, when Medea takes revenge on Jason by killing their two sons, we feel sympathetic. Certain incidents, such as the death of Glauce and Creon, alter our perspective on these two complicated characters.

It is impulsive at the beginning of the play to feel sorry for Medea. The Nurse’s speech informs us of how arduous it was for Medea to come to Greece with Jason, on the Argo. She murdered her own father, King Pelias, as well as her brother and saved Jason from a serpent guarding the Golden Fleece, allowing him to escape. She betrayed her own people for Jason because she was ‘smitten with love’. Now that Jason is leaving her, she is just a simple foreigner living in Greece, seen as a woman of lower class to those born there. Medea cannot return to her homeland and, husbandless, she is disgraced. She cries that she has ‘no haven from this calamity’. When Jason first enters the play, he is confronted by Medea declaring all that she has done with him. Jason tells Medea that she should consider herself lucky and after being confronted, is quick to dismiss all of what Medea stated. Jason is convinced that it was thanks to Aphrodite, not Medea, that his life was spared on the Argo. He proclaims that she should be grateful to him for bringing her to a superior land....
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