Medea: Looking for Revenge

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  • Topic: Kill, Woman, Argonauts
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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Medea: Looking for Revenge

Medea, a play by the Greek playwright Euripides, explores the Greek- barbarian dichotomy through the character of Medea, a princess from the "barbarian", or non-Greek, land of Colchis. Throughout the play, it becomes evident to the reader that Medea is no ordinary woman by Greek standards. Central to the whole plot is Medea's barbarian origins and how they are related to her actions. In this paper, I am attempting to answer questions such as how Medea behaves like a female, how she acts heroically from a male point of view, why she killed her children, if she could have achieved her goal without killing them, if the murder was motivated by her barbarian origins, and how she deals with the pain of killing her children.

As an introduction to the play, the status of women in Greek society should be briefly discussed. In general, women had very few rights. In the eyes of men, the main purposes of women in Greek society were to do housework such as cooking and cleaning, and bear children. They could not vote, own property, or choose a husband, and had to be represented by men in all legal proceedings. In some ways, these Greek women were almost like slaves. There is a definite relationship between this subordination of women and what transpires in the play. Jason decides that he wants to divorce Medea and marry the princess of Corinth, casting Medea aside as if they had never been married. This sort of activity was acceptable by Greek standards, and shows the subordinate status of the woman, who had no say in any matter like this. Even though some of Medea's actions were not typical of the average Greek woman, she still had attitudes and emotions common among women. For instance, Medea speaks out against women's status in society, proclaiming that they have no choice of whom to marry, and that a man can rid themselves of a woman to get another whenever he wants, but a woman always has to "keep [her] eyes...
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