The Concept of the Tragic Hero: an Analysis of Jason and Medea in Euripides’ 'Medea’

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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 good 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 figure 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 Iolcus. 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...
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