Medea: Character Analysis
Authors of books use different characters to expose certain themes in society. In every society, women are assigned different duties among which include; taking care of the children and the husband. In most societies, women are treated as lesser than their male counterparts. Greek society is one that Euripides focuses on and uses different characters to portray the image of that society. In his play, he uses Medea as the main character.
Medea was a woman who in her time lived a life different from ordinary women in Greek society. Euripides wanted to portray Medea as a different woman as evidenced by the characteristics assigned to her in the play. My paper focuses on character development and how Euripides describes Medea in his play. I now narrow down to her character traits as depicted by Euripides.
Medea was a courageous woman. She kills the dragon that guarded the golden ram. This is an act of courage that Euripides wants to portray in this woman. I think she is portrayed this way to show women that they also have the strength and can do great things in their lives to save their loved ones. This act of Medea is driven by the love she had for Jason. (Euripides 13)
In the play, Medea is a murderer. She killed her two sons and her brother. Killing the sons were part of her revenge against her betraying husband. Medea murders her brother to elope with Jason. Euripides portrays her this way to warn the present and future generations in Greek against betrayal to women.
Another character trait of Medea is that she is an activist for the silently suffering Greek wives, where women are seen as slaves and husbands as their masters. She does not like the place women have been placed in her society. “Indeed often I have looked at women’s nature in this way that we are nothing” (Euripides 13). Euripides presents her this way to provoke the women’s minds to question the injustices done against them by men.
Medea is presented as a revengeful woman. This is a trait that nearly dominates her mood in the play. She kills her sons to deprive Jason of his fatherhood. This was to make him pay for leaving Medea for the king’s daughter. “…and cause another (Jason) to be deprived of fatherhood through the murder of his sons” (Euripides 11). To Medea, this would serve as appropriate revenge against Jason for betraying her. I think the author presents Medea this way to warn members of the society against betrayal to one another. This is because it leads to conflicts among members of the society that leads to significant tragedies in society.
Euripides presents Medea as an intelligent woman. She can critically analyze how men in society took women for granted. I would say this based on the fact that Jason marries another woman without discussing the issue with her wife before taking the action towards marrying another woman. “…of all creatures that have life and a sense of judgment, we women are the most wrecked race; first we use excess cash to buy our husbands, and what we get are masters of our bodies” (Euripides 13). This woman can criticize society’s place of a woman and openly laments how women are mistreated by their community. Euripides wanted women to be intelligent and stand out for their voice in society. This would then be transferred to future generations.
Universal Lesson Euripides wants to highlight from this Play
The universal lesson Euripides wants to highlight from this play is the place of women in society. In the olden days, women’s place in Greek society was that of objects of use and slaves for men. Rather they were considered less than men. That is why a man could marry another woman without the knowledge of his wife just as Jason did. Euripides highlights this lesson to inform the future generation of how valuable women are in society. The vulnerability of women in society can cause many upheavals when they finally realize their role is as equally important as that of men.
In his play, Euripides presents Medea as an outstanding woman to show how a woman feels when a man mistreats her. In the development of this play, we see a woman full of dedication towards her marriage and upbringing of children but later all her dreams and passions reduced to anger and vengeance against society. Euripides wanted to show society that women need to be recognized and respected. In the play, Medea questions the justification of a woman paying the dowry for a man whom she becomes a slave. This is unjust and, therefore, led to the conflicts in the play.
In conclusion, society should recognize the women and give them the respect they deserve for their significant role in bearing children and bringing them up. Society should be just enough for all its members.
Euripides, Stephen Esposito, Michael R. Halleran, and Anthony Podlecki. Medea, Hippolytus, Heracles, Bacchae: Four Plays. Newburyport: Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Co, 2012. Print.