November 24, 2014
Medea Characterization Essay
Medea, originally from Euripides’ ancient Greek tragedy Medea, is a complex character. Medea is presented in many diverse ways in various works by Euripides, Ovid, filmmaker Lars von Trier, and actress Fiona Shaw. They all characterize her in different ways from the way she reacts to the problem with Jason to the way she felt and went about her vengeance on Jason, to what the writer chose as the main focus, and how Medea was presented.
In each of the works, the writers chose to produce the character of Medea in contrasting ways. Ovid, the Roman poet, presented Medea as much more of a lover in his version of the Greek play. “His beauty would move a heart of stone- at least it moved mine”(Ovid, 154), Ovid portrayers her with more of a “little girl” crush and admiration for Jason, someone who is kinder and more loving. In Euripides writing, the original play, Medea is seen as supernatural, a sorceress. She is very manipulative and proud, she is a woman who is feared, “A frightening woman; no one who makes an enemy of her will carry off an easy victory” (Euripides, 28). In this version of the story Medea is also seen as intelligent and she is respected for her intellect, “certainly; a brain like yours is what is needed” (Euripides, 37). These two portals are very different because in one case, Medea seems like this heart broken lover with not much else to her, while Euripides almost makes her seem like a monster. The similarity between the two is that Ovid does recall how she used her power to help Jason, so it gives us the idea that she is powerful; however in Ovid’s poem she does not seem to recognize her power in the current day. In Lars von Trier’s film, Medea seems to be changed a lot from the way Euripides intended. In the film, Medea is not presented as much as a powerful princess Euripides had made it to be. Viewers get a sense of the character more through physical expression than verbal expression, while Euripides had her saying long monologues of enraged dialogue. Lars von Trier creates the character with a sense of calmness to her, which seems very different to the other characterizations. Fiona Shaw, the actress who played Medea in one of the many productions, seemed to take a more human approach to Medea, making it seem like she was more human and normal than anything and all of her actions or emotions were justified and typical. Even with the same story line, the writers and actress were able to characterize Medea in different, yet accurate, ways.
Ovid, Lars von Trier, and Fiona Shaw all took Euripides original play and kept it, for the most part, the same. However, each creator decided to take the events from the play and they all had different focal points. Shaw’s perception of the play seemed to focus mostly on Medea having to kill her children. The creation of the murder scene and how to build the audience up to it was the main talk of “Theater Talks”, where she and the director discussed their production of Medea. The one thing about that focal point is that it does not really add and variety because all of the writers focus on the killing. In the film by von Trier, he decides to focus on the relationship between Glauce and Jason, which we do not even really see in the original play by Euripides. This central point is different from Ovid’s take on the play because his poem is based off of Medea’s love for Jason. The poem almost sounds like a love letter, where she writes about her love for Jason, “I am wondering whether this maybe the thing called love, or something like it” (Ovid,153). These four dramatists have taken little bits and pieces of Euripides’s play and centered their work around. These details that they have chosen to work with help them characterize Medea in their own way because each aspect shows a different side to her.
The most known detail of Medea is that Jason leaves her and she is beyond upset and...
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