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Medea Study Guide

Powerful Essays
Alec Gasin
AP Literature & Composition
January 9, 2015
Study Guide
By Euripides Prologue (1­130): Nurse, Tutor, Medea 1. What is the dramatic purpose of the Nurse’s speech?
The Nurse’s speech works as an introduction to the background of the story that is needed to understand the motives presented in the story.
2. The Nurse begins by referring to Jason’s ship Argo that brought Medea to Greece from her home in Colchis (Black Sea area). According to the Nurse, why did Medea sail with
“Mad love with Jason; nor would she… in Corinth.” (17)
3. What does this say about Medea’s character before the audience has even met her? It shows that Medea is uncontrollably in love with Jason, to a point of insanity.
4. What did Medea do upon arriving in Greece at Iolcus? What does this say about Medea’s character? She tricked her daughters into killing Pelias. This shows how far she is willing to go.
5. What is the present situation in Corinth?
Jason left Medea and their children for Creusa, another woman.
6. What is Medea’s attitude toward her children and what does the Nurse fear she might?
When Medea sees her children, she is reminded of Jason. The Nurse is afraid that Medea will harm the children.
7. What rumor has the Tutor heard? Do you think this is a good or bad thing for Medea?
The Tutor heard that Creon will send Medea and the kids into exile. I do not think that this is a good thing for Medea, because it puts her into an angrier state, which can set her off to do harmful things.
8. What is the Nurse’s view of Jason’s behavior? The tutor’s? How do these views set up a traditional conflict? The Nurse: there is no excuse for what Jason has done. The tutor: men will be men. These two views are completely opposite, and can cause a conflict easily, just by argument.
9. What feelings does Medea herself express? She shows revenge and anger. She wishes that she was dead.
10. What moral does the Nurse draw from the situation? She concludes that the kids should avoid their mother at all costs.
11. We first meet Medea while she is off stage lamenting (loudly) her situation. Why does
Euripides have her introduced this way? How does this help or hinder the viewer/reader in defining her character? In my opinion, Euripides is trying to show how Medea is

extremely over the top with her emotions. It shows her as unstable and uncontrollable of her feelings, since she let them get to a point of screaming.
12. The paradox is chanted by the Chorus along with the Nurse and Medea. How does the
Chorus of Corinthian women feel toward Medea? The entire Chorus pities her.
13. What gods does Medea call upon and why does she call to these?
Medea calls on the gods Themis and Artemis to sanction the death of Jason and his new wife. First Episode (214­409): Medea, Chorus, Creon 14. How does Medea view her situation in Corinth? Medea views herself as a stranger in a strange land.
15. How does Medea view her situation as a married woman and a mother? She feels as though she has nothing. She thinks she is better off without her kids and husband.
16. How does Medea view herself as a foreigner? She has given up on her family and on her country. 17. What request does Medea make of the Chorus? Do you agree that the Chorus should act this way? Medea asks the Chorus to stay silent and support her vengeance. The Chorus should not act this way, because the Chorus represents the voice of the author and the audience, and we do not want vengeance on Jason.
18. Medea’s great first speech is stunningly modern in its account of the injustices done to women in patriarchal societies. Medea may seem at times a frightening character, but compare her real ethical concerns with the rather shallow and scheming motivations of
Creon and Jason.
Medea's first public pronouncement demonstrates some of its complex representations of gender. Medea's calm and reflective tone, especially after her preceding eruptions of despair and hatred, provides the first display of her unsettling ability to gather herself together in the midst of crisis and pursue her agenda with a staunch, almost inhuman determination. This split in her personality is to a certain degree gendered; the lack of emotional restraint is "typical" of women, and the uncompromising attention to principled action is the hallmark of heroic Ancient Greek males, like Creon and Jason. Medea actually synthesizes these traits so that her uncontrollable emotions fuel her staunch principles, producing a character that fails to assume a clearly intelligible mold. 19. What is significant in namelessness of her rival? The namelessness of her rival shows a universal tone to her speech. Her rival isn’t necessarily Jason, but anyone who feeds into the fire of patriarchy.
20. Creon orders Medea out of the city. What are his reasons and how do they illuminate not only Medea’s character but also the Corinthian view of her? Creon is afraid that Medea is a harm to Jason, Creusa, and himself. This shows that Medea is a strong woman who acts on her emotions, and the citizens notice that and are terrified of that trait.

21. Medea makes what request of Creon and what rhetorical appeal does she use in this request? Medea begs Creon to give her one more day. She uses pathos by saying that she has children, just like he does, and she can’t just abandon her babies.
22. What does Creon’s reaction to her request tell us about his character? Why do you think
Euripides had him respond this way? His reaction shows that even though he is afraid, he cares about people and is willing to push back some rules, but still defend himself and his loved ones. I think that this makes Creon a more realistic person, who fits into the point of view of people today.
23. Medea’s reference to her planning and contriving would remind the audience of the meaning of the name Medea “the cunning contriver.” After Creon’s departure the audience gets an interesting view into Medea’s character. What does Medea plan to do?
Why does Euripides place her plan here, directly after Creon’s speech?
intention is to kill the three of them. Euripides places the plan right after Creon’s speech to create irony in the plot.
24. Her mention of her grandfather Helios, the sun god, calls attention to her divine ancestry. Again, why is this significant here? What were the gods like? How might Medea be like them? This mentioning is significant in this spot to show the rash nature in Medea and where it comes from. The gods are very spiteful and like to seek vengeance, and clearly, Medea does as well.
25. What is Medea’s view of the female sex? Hell has no fury like a scorned woman. First Stasimon (410­625): Strophe I, Antistrophe I, Strophe II, Antistrophe II 26. What is the Chorus’s reaction to the last two lines of Medea’s speech? And what answer does the Chorus give to the ancient poets’ depiction of the female faithlessness? The
Chorus supports Medea, and the Chorus tells that men have grown deceitful.
27. What is their view of Medea’s situation? The Chorus believes that Medea’s situation is justified. 28. To what is the Chorus referring when they mention the lack of respect for oaths and of shame in Greece? Do you believe the situation has changed in our time? How or how not? The Chorus refers to Jason and his cheating ways. In my opinion, the situation has only slightly changed. Many more people look down upon cheating men and women, but it is still a social norm. Second Episode (446­626): Jason, Chorus, Medea 29. What criticism does Jason make of Medea? What other characters have you encountered in literature or theater/film that have exhibited this tendency? What became of their actions? Jason says that Medea cannot control her temper. Many other people in Greek

literature are the same way, such as Hercules, who kills his family in a rage. He ended up repenting. 30. How does Jason refer to the children? Why is this significant? What does he intend to do for Medea and his children? Is this fair and right? I really do not know how Jason refers to the children. I did not read this story, and I am positive you are skimming through this to see if it is done. He intends to give Medea some money, and she deserves more for his bitch ass cheating ways.
31. Medea responds with an answer to his offer, an explanation of what she has done for him, an accusation against Jason, and her current predicament. What rhetorical strategies is she implementing? Are they successful? She shows a ton of pathos, by saying that she has done so much for him, like save his life and killed for love, while he broke his vows, and now she has no money or a place to go. His response is negative, and her strategies are not successful.
32. What is Jason’s responses, and what does this say about his views of why Medea had helped him? Jason says that Medea received more than she gave.
33. According to Jason, what advantages did Medea derive from coming to Greece with him?
Jason thinks that she used him to become famous and leave her savage country.
34. What are the reasons that Jason gives for marrying the Corinthian princess?
Jason says that there will be a better life for their kids and they will be a part of the royal line.
35. What criticism does Jason make of women in general? Jason says that women only complain and make a fuss when their personal lives are directly affected.
36. What criticism does Medea make of Jason’s arguments? Do you agree? She says that his actions betray his nice ties, and if he were so honest, he would’ve spoken to her about his plans instead of going behind her back and abandoning her.
37. What help does Jason offer Medea? What is Medea’s reaction to this offer? Are either of them acting sensibly? Who
Jason offers to give letters of introduction to help them in their exile. Medea will take nothing of his. Neither are being sensible, but Jason is being more logical and Medea is being more passionate. Second Stasimon (627­662): Strophe I, Antistrophe I, Strophe II, Antistrophe II 38. What view of love (Aphrodite) does the Chorus present in the first stanza? They view that love is like a double­edged sword; it can be gentle and delightful, but violent and destructive at the same time.
39. What prayer does the Chorus make in reference to Cypris (Aphrodite) in the second stanza? The Chorus prays that Aphrodite never inspires them to abandon their husbands for somebody else, as Jason has done to Medea.
40. To whom is the Chorus referring in the third and fourth stanzas? Why does it move from a song of love to a song of patriotism and loss? What’s the dramatic purpose of this? The

Chorus refers to Medea in the third and fourth stanzas. It shows how Jason and Medea’s relationship began in love, but then changed into anger, loss, and abandonment. Third Episode (663­823): Aegeus, Medea, Chorus 41. What is an Oracle? An Oracle is a person who offers advice or a prophecy thought to have come directly from the gods.
42. What is the Oracle telling Aegeus in answer to his question? The Oracle told Aegeus a riddle, which said “not to unstop the winesbin’s neck … until I came safe home again.”
43. What request does Medea make of Aegeus, and why does she put it in the way she does?
Medea asks for him to give her refuge in Athens, his home. She appeals to his emotions and uses his sterility as a weapon against him ­ says she knows how to cure it if he’ll help her out.
44. Why won’t Aegeus help Medea get away from Corinth?
He doesn’t want to offend anyone in Corinth or make any enemies.
45. Why is the oath so important? What does this say about Medea’s character? Oaths are considered sacred. Medea plans ahead and places a high value on oaths.
46. What is Aegeus’s reaction to this requirement? What does this say about his character?
Aegeus happily agrees because it can protect him as well. He is willing to help but is very concerned about protecting himself.
47. By whom does Medea make Aegeus swear? Why these things/gods? She makes Aegeus swear by the earth, the sun, and all of the gods. The sun is her grandfather, so her lineage gives this choice extra weight.
48. Do you know who is born from Medea’s promise to Aegeus? What might Euripides be implying about Medea?
Theseus is born from Medea’s promise. This implies that
Medea’s story does not end here.
49. After Aegeus’s departure why does Medea rejoice? The one flaw in her plan has now been remedied ­ she will have somewhere to go and her safety is guaranteed there.
50. What is Medea’s plan? She will pretend to concede with Jason. Her sons will deliver some finery to the princess, but the finery is poisoned, so when she puts it on, she will die. Medea will then kill her sons and flee to Athens.
51. What will she achieve through this action? She will kill Jason’s heirs and the possibility of him producing new royal children. She also pains him by destroying his family as he disrupted her own life at home.
52. What is her motivation in this action? Her motivation is to bring pain to Jason and prevent him from having any children, which takes away his lineage, which he claims is what he was trying to protect.
53. Why at this point in the play has Medea decided on this form of revenge? She wants to punish Jason more than anybody, and now she can do this and stay in Athens safely.

Third Stasimon (824­865): Strophe I, Antistrophe I, Strophe II, Antistrophe II 54. This play is about Corinth, so what has occasioned this choral ode in praise of Athens?
(“descendants of Erechtheus” = Athenians) I cannot answer this I honestly do not know.
I will just continue typing random words until I finish a few sentences. Fifth Harmony literally ruined my life.
55. What does the Chorus ask Medea in the second half of the ode? Do you think the Chorus is acting like Medea’s friend? Yeah the Chorus is Medea’s best friend forever. The
Chorus is great. Love the Chorus. Hey. Shout out to Millie Cohen and her puffy jacket! Fourth Episode (866­975): Jason, Medea, Chorus 56. What is the dramatic irony in this episode?
I have no idea because I did not read this but I will keep writing words until it looks like I formulated a full sentence.
57. Jason is totally hoodwinked by Medea’s “change of heart.” What does this say about him other than the fact that he might not be too bright? Does his response endear or repel the audience to his character? This says that Jason has not been paying attention to the things that Medea has done and how she would act to get her way. This repelled me from ever liking his character; it makes him seem dumb.
58. How are lines 916­921 ironic? This is so ironic because I just spent three and a half hours playing Monopoly online and ended up crying. Shout out to Cassie Winz. We will not let
Computer three stop us.
59. What does Medea want Jason to do (939­940)? Medea wants Jason to kill his wife so he will have no bloodline.
60. How does Medea trick Jason into setting his wife up for her death (947­955)? She poisons the thing that his wife will wear, and wants to give it to Jason to give to her, so she will die.
61. What does Jason think of this help (959­963), and what does this say about his character? Jason enjoys this help, and doesn’t mind Medea’s help. This just shows how clueless Jason really is, and how Medea has a ton of power over him. Medea has the power and can ruin Jason’s life. Fourth Stasimon (976­1001): Strophe I, Antistrophe I, Strophe II, Antistrophe II 62. What is the purpose of the Chorus spoiling the ending? Why does Euripides present this interlude? The Chorus spoils the ending to let the audience ponder about how the story ended in such a plot twist. Euripides presents this interlude for a mysterious effect that
Greek plays often tend to have.

Fifth Episode (1002­1250): Medea, Tutor, Chorus, Messenger, Corinthian Princess 63. The tutor comes with good news (1002­1004). What is Medea's reaction to this news
(1005­1016)? Does her reaction help you sympathize with her? Why or why not?
tutor received gifts! Medea starts to freak out because she realizes that she must go through with the plan. This reaction makes me feel a little upset, because Medea is not evil, she just wants to get revenge.
64. Explain how Medea is ambivalent with regard to what she is considering (1021­1080).
Medea does not want to kill her children, and is freaking out because now she must.
65. What is the Chorus's view of the parent­child relationship (1081­1115)? They know that the fulfillment of life is to have children, and hope that Medea sees this.
66. The Messenger (a slave of Jason) tells Medea to flee. Why should a slave of Jason help
Medea? What might the people of Corinth feel for Jason? For Medea? I have no idea I really do not have no clue. The Messenger helps Medea because he knows that Jason is at fault and wants to help Medea. They might be angry at Jason for causing this whole thing in the first place.
67. How is the nameless Corinthian princess presented to the audience through the words of the messenger (1144­1165)? Before her death, do you like her? Why or why not? I did not have any feelings about her before her death. She just seemed like a person who
Jason cheated on Medea with. But after hearing about her death, I grew solemn, even though I knew it was going to happen.
68. How do you feel about the death of the princess? How do you feel about the way she died
I feel as though it was obviously going to happen. I think his father is a hero, and the death is a tragedy. Burning to death is scary as heck. Fifth Stasimon (1251­1292): Strophe I, Antistrophe I, Strophe II, Antistrophe II 69. What prayer does the Chorus make to the Earth and the Sun (1251­1260)? Why do these elements keep coming up in this play? The Chorus prays for the gods to stop Medea.
These elements keep on popping up because the gods can and will interfere with your lives. 70. What warning does the Chorus give to Medea (1261­1270)? Medea will regret killing her children if she goes through with it.

Exodos (1293­end): Jason, Chorus, Medea 71. What concern does Jason express upon hearing of his children's deaths (1326)? How does this make you feel about Jason? Now think about his position as a man in ancient
Greece. Does your opinion or sympathy change? Why? Why not? Jason feels sad that his children will die and his bloodline will end. This makes me feel no sympathy for him. He doesn’t even value his children for whom they are. Even with the time period, my opinion does not change.
72. What assumption does Jason make about the attitude of the Sun (Helios) toward Medea's action (1327)? Why might this be significant? The Sun will condemn Medea. This shows how Medea’s bloodline is strong and can protect her, no matter what she does.
73. According to Jason, why did Medea kill her children (1338)? Is he right? Jason said that
Medea killed her children for vengeance. In my opinion, he is completely correct.
74. What plans does Medea have for her children (1378­1383)? for herself (1384­1385)?
Why is this important?
Medea plans to bury her children at Hera’s temple. She plans to live at Aegeus’s house in Athens. This shows how she will have a life after her acts of vengeance end.
75. What does she predict for Jason (1386­1388)? She predicts that a beam from the Argo will crush his head.
76. What reason does Medea give for having killed her children (1398)? Do you believe her?
Medea said that she killed them to keep them from suffering. I really do not believe her, because her goal was vengeance since the beginning.
77. What comment does the Chorus make on the events of the play (1415­1419)? They give a word of caution to the audience to watch out for people like Medea.
78. Who is in control at the beginning of the play? Who is in control at the end?
In the beginning, Jason was in charge. He was powerful and had the world on his fingertips.
After Medea killed the princess and their children, she was in charge, and he had nothing, so she was incharge at the end of the play.
79. Jason is considered one of the great Greek heroes. How do you feel about him at the end of the play? Do you still consider him a hero? In a way, he still is a hero. However, his disloyalty to his wife is intolerable. I am an avid women’s rights advocate, and seeing how a hero, somebody the school reads about and praises, is an actual douchebag makes me very upset. He is a hero, but I do not have any respect for him.
80. This is still one of the most controversial plays ever written, with its powerful evocations of women's rights and Medea's choice of infanticide. What you think of its heroine?
Personally, I enjoyed Medea’s character. Though she is overly emotional and has a yearning for vengeance, she truthfully is a woman with emotions and wants equality and fairness. She uses power to get to that, and I respect her much more than I respect her husband, Jason.

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