Medea (431BCE)

Well I’m still reviewing theatre and I think I should review another of Euripides’ Tragedies. This is a play where the main character contrasts heavily with Phaedra. This is Medea.

The plot is simple. Medea was a Princess from a Barbarian land who assisted the hero Jason in acquiring the Golden Fleece. She uses her magical skill to kill a number of people for him, including her own brother, and she makes several of her own people’s traditional oaths that bind them together as a couple.Then Jason leaves Medea for a younger Princess, daughter of Creon King of Corinth, and Medea sets out to gain her revenge.

This play is possibly my favourite…ever. Firstly I love the plot. It’s a revenge story and it’s amplified by the characters. Euripides was a massive misogynist. He downright hated women. This is seen clearly in the two main characters. Jason and Medea. Jason is rational, he didn’t want to exile Medea, that was Creon’s choice. Jason would’ve had Medea stay, sure he would’ve had sons by Glauce (the princess) but his sons by Medea still would’ve inherited the throne and Medea would have had a privileged and comfortable lifestyle. Furthermore Jason never married Medea by the proper Athenian laws and so as far as he is concerned they were just lovers. Hell Jason even offers Medea help when she is exiled saying that he will make allowances and let her stay with his friends. Medea is only exiled because she threatens the royal house. Speaking of Medea I think that had I read this play before my Top Ten fictional female list then Medea would’ve ranked damn high. She is completely driven by passion, she’s irrationality incarnate whilst Jason seems to be more logical and rational. She completely ignores Jason, insulting him repeatedly and saying that his intentions were selfish and far from honourable. I think the main reasons why Medea is such a great character are the fact that she is intelligent, manipulative and completely brutal. In the play all the male characters come to her, one at a time. She stays at her villa, they are portrayed as subservient to her. She manipulated Creon into giving her one day before being exiled and this scene really shows Medea to be intelligent. It’s interesting to note the way in which the public perception of this character has changed. Originally all of Medea’s attributes would have been considered bad at the time. She’s an intelligent, powerful manipulative foreign woman who is closer to the Gods than she could be and completely irrational and driven by her passions. Wonderful. The writing style is good and flows very easily, very visual and gives a good impression of what it would look like on stage.The play works through things at a good pace and continues to keep your attention, something which Hippolytus did not do. I like the ending which really develops and concludes Medea and Jason’s relationship. I love the recurring themes of using sailing metaphors, to symbolise Medea being lost and completely powerless in a foreign land far from home, and the hand related metaphors, which are used later to show that Medea now has control of the situation.

I love this play. Perfect plot, perfect characters, perfect conclusion and damn fine writing from the oldest master of tragedy, Euripides.




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