Comparison of Medea by Euripides, Jean Anouilh and Wesley Enouch

Topics: Indigenous Australians / Pages: 11 (2687 words) / Published: Jun 23rd, 2012
Medea Comparison
The Medea is a classic tragedy with its historical, cultural and social origins firmly in Ancient Greece. Since originally being written by Euripides, the play has been rewritten and reinterpreted by many different playwrights and directors throughout history. Each time the Meda has been re-imagined, it takes on different meaning, born from the context of the playwright and the message they wish to convey through this powerful play. This essay will cover the original play by Euripides, as well as the versions from Jean Anouilh and Wesley Enouch. It will discuss how the different contexts, historical, social and cultural, have shaped the play that was written and performed.

Euripides was born in Athens in 484 BC and died in 406 (Sparknotes on Medea n.d.). Euripides version of the Medea was originally written and first performed in 431 BC (McNamara 1999, p7). This was during the ‘Golden Age’ of Greek civilisation where Democracy, philosophy, medicine, and the alphabet (among others) was discovered (McNamara 1999, p7). During this time, the concept of tragic drama and theatre was conceived, and flourished in the city state, with Euripides being one of the most prolific and influential playwrights of his time (Sparknotes on Medea n.d.).

In this era, the Greek’s of Athens were always ‘at edge’ with the constant threat of war to their city state and allies (McNamara 1999, p7). Just before Euripides was born in 490 BC the Athenian’s won a decisive battle against the Persian’s, winning the right to pursue their free democratic ideals, as well as gaining dominance over the Mediterranean (McNamara 1999, p7). However towards the end of Euripides lifetime, Athens power and influence was wanning, with much of it being lost after a protracted defeat to Sparta during the Peloponnesian War (431 BC – 404 BC) (Sparknotes on Medea n.d.).

Within Athens there was also some social upheaval which came in the form of younger thinkers challenging the notions of the



Bibliography: ‘A Film Review of Wesley Enoch’s Black Medea’, 2008. Writers Cafe. Retrieved on 25 June 2011, from http://www.writerscafe.org/writing/Ashleigh825/355074/ Arguelles, R ‘Beyond the Wounds of a Classic Taboo’, 2005. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved on 25 June 2011 from http://www.smh.com.au/news/Arts/Beyond-the-wounds-of-a-classic-taboo/2005/04/11/1113071910312.html ‘Biography: Wesley Enoch’, 2010 Hartnoll, P. 1998, The Theatre, A Concise History, Thames and Hudson, London ‘History of France, World War II’, 2011 McNamara, K. 1999, A Student’s Guide to Medea, Wizard Books, Ballarat. Pronko, L Roberts, J. 2005. ‘The Mother of all Tragedies’. The Age. Retrieved June 25 2011, from http://www.theage.com.au/news/Arts/The-mother-of-all tragedies/2005/05/12/1115843307936.html SparkNotes Editors, n.d SparkNotes Editors, n.d. SparkNote on Medea, SparkNotes LLC. Retrieved June 22, 2011, from http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/medea/ Wickham, G.1993, A History of the Theatre, Phaidon, London

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