Euripides’ MedeaEuripides’ Medea
2.) Since Euripides’ play “Medea” is still one of the most controversial plays ever written about the evocations of women’s rights, there are many dissimilar opinions on the justification for Medea’s choice of infanticide. The two most distinct sides are, that her reasoning and her actions were completely vindicated and the other is that her reasoning and her actions were entirely erroneous and unethical.
Her severe anger and turmoil caused by Jason marrying another women was overwhelming and devastated her. The only thing that she concerned herself with was to make Jason undergo the feelings of pain and suffering, even surpassed her own. Medea states that by killing her children “is the best way to wound my husband,” (line 817) and that “No compromise is possible.” (Line 819)
Her first decision is to kill her children, but then when she is faced with them and their smiles she renounces her plan. At this point she says, “Why should I hurt their father with the pain they feel, and suffer twice as much pain myself?” (Line 1046-47) After she hears the news that the princess and Creon died, she realizes that because of this her children will be endangered anyway. She says, “to suffer my children to be slain by another hand less kindly to them. Force every was will have it they must die, and since this must be so, then I, their mother, shall kill them.” (Lines 1238-41)
Her initial justifications for killing her children are not valid ones, which she seems to realize when she renounces her plans. However, it is hard to decide whether her final choice to murder her children is justified, because they would have been murdered anyway, but then how can a mother murder her own children. There seems like she could have done something to hide them or protect them, or was it just an excuse to kill them and hurt Jason again. I personally do not feel that her actions were justified, I think her excuses had no weight against the fact that as a mother she could murder her own children to hurt their father.
4.) Medea’s speech is very profound and advanced for the time in which it was written. She speaks about the injustices women had to endure in her time, which directly relates that throughout history women have all had to live with injustice and inferiority derived from the patriarchal societies of the past. “We women are the most unfortunate creatures,” is where she begins to go into details and lists some of the difficulties and unjust situations women are faced with. She talks about the frailties of marriage, how women have no choice in their own marriage, and how if “the husband lives with us and lightly bears his yoke, then life is enviable.” She essentially means that the only important thing in a woman’s life is marriage and children, and if they do not obtain that then they are worthless and considered outcasts. She also goes into the freedom that men have to do what they please, but that women do not have the freedom to do what they please, only what their husbands grant or allow them to do. Also, how women are supposed to stay in the home with the children, while men go off to war. “Medea says that she “would very much rather stand three times in the front of the battle than bear one child.” The aspect that women are merely objects is brought forth when she says, “thought of nothing by my husband-something he won in a foreign land.”
These ethical concerns of Medea directly correlate with the shallow and scheming concerns of Creon and Jason. Jason’s reasoning to Medea for marrying the princess is that, it would benefit their children and Medea by the royal connection and ample amount of money from it. However, his reason to Medea, although completely understandable and defensible, is bull*censored*. He was obviously bored and ashamed of Medea and saw the chance to marry a beautiful rich princess. As for Creon, when he says, “I am afraid of you,” he is not lying, but he is also not telling the whole truth. Medea’s reputation is not the best, she is a foreigner and a murderer and he does not want people to associate himself, his daughter or his son-in-law with the likes of her.
Medea basically tells it like it is, and knows all about the true intentions of the men she encounters. She is able to see right through their lies, no matter how viable they are, and either confronts them on it or uses their own lies and deceives them. Like when she used Creon’s lie about his reasoning for her exile to give her one more day in order to kill him and his daughter. Also, when she confronts Jason about his lies by telling him that he is “confident in his tongue’s power to adorn evil, he stops at nothing. Yet he is not really wise,” and “there is no need to put on the airs of a clever speaker, for one word will lay you flat.” She uses her own knowledge of the way the patriarchal society works to manipulate men to obtain what she wants, and depending on the situation will use different ways to get it.
5.) Aegeus is the king of Athens, who happens to be an old friend of Medea that randomly shows up in the middle of the play. He had just left the ancient oracle of Phoebus, where he inquired about how he might have children born to him. Medea told Aegeus of her problems and of her exile. She then proposed to him, that if he took her into his home, that she would enable him to have children. They both then swear to the gods that they will keep their promises, and then Aegeus leaves and continues on his way.
At the end of the play all that is stated is that Medea flees to Aegeus’ on a chariot drawn by dragons. However, the rest of the story does continue on with Aegeus and Medea. Medea keeps her promise to Aegeus in a twisted way, by baring his child named Medus. The question I arose to with this, is whether her intentions when she initially made her promise to Aegeus were sort of innocent or premeditated. By premeditated I mean did she consciously promise Aegeus to intentionally bear his child or not?