Jason and Medea

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The Chorus delivers these final lines of Euripides’s Medea, “…the end men look for cometh not, / And a path is there where no man thought; so hath it fallen here.” (Euripides, 80) This quotation not only signifies the events, which have transpired in the plot of Medea, it also shows the recognition of a very curious aspect of Medea: that the protagonist of the play, Medea, is not the tragic hero. A tragic hero by Aristotelian standards is one who possesses a driving aspect– or hamartia – which causes his or her downfall, who endures a reversal of fortunes leading to immense suffering – called peripeteia, and who undergoes an anagnorisis: a profound change or realization. Medea does not have any of these attributes. Instead, it is Medea’s ex-husband, the antagonist of the play, Jason who is the embodiment of the aspects of a tragic hero. Through the examination of Jason’s flaws, his suffering, and his tragic realization, Jason may be viewed as the tragic hero of Medea. Jason’s hamartia is his rationality. He leaves Medea not for some whim of emotion, but to give himself and his children a position of power within the kingdom of Corinth. “Not – what makes thy passion wild – / From loathing of thy bed; not overfraught / With love for this new bride; not that I sought / To upbuild mine house with offspring: … / But, first and greatest, that we all might dwell in a fair house and want not, … Next, I sought to rear / Our sons in nurture worthy of my race, / And, raising bretheren to them, in one place / Join both my houses, and be all from now / Prince-like and happy.” (31) Jason’s rationality causes his downfall because of his inability to realize that Medea would act irrationally. Medea, once she finds out about Jason’s betrayal cries curses about Jason; King Creon; and Jason’s fiancé, Glauce. It is this emotional cry that causes Medea and her children to be outcast from Corinth, ruining Jason’s plan.

Jason’s fortunes at the start of the play are very...
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