Medea By Euripides Essay

Through the play Medea, Euripides shows us the importance of keeping a promise
given. At the beginning of the story, we see the play’s two opposing views of
promise keeping represented by the Nurse and the Tutor. As she stands outside of
Medea’s house and laments the way Jason has slighted Medea by taking another
wife, the Nurse speaks of the “eternal promise” Jason and Medea made to each
other on their wedding day (17-21). The Nurse wishes Jason were dead for the way
he has abandoned his wife and children, so strongly does she feel vows should
not be broken (83). When the Tutor enters the scene, he expresses a much more
cynical view regarding Jason’s decision to leave his wife. He asks the nurse,
“Have you only just discovered / That everyone loves himself more than his
neighbor? / Some have good reason, others get something out of it. / So Jason
neglects his children for the new bride” (85-88). The Tutor feels that
Jason’s leaving Medea is only a part of life, as “Old ties give place to new
ones”. Jason “No longer has a feeling” for his family with Medea, so he
leaves her to marry the princess who will bring him greater power (76-77). Medea
is outraged that she sacrificed so much to help Jason, only to have him revoke
his pledge to her for his own selfish gain. She asks him whether he thinks the
gods whose names he swore by have ceased to rule, thereby allowing him to break
his promise to her. Medea vows to avenge her suffering by destroying Jason’s
new family and his children. When Jason curses his wife for her murdering at the
end of the play, she says to him, “What heavenly power lends an ear / To a
breaker of oaths, a deceiver?” (1366-1367) In this way, Medea lays the blame
for all the evil she has done at the feet of Jason, for she never would have
done these things if he had not betrayed his promise to her. Euripide’s
portrayal of Jason’s destruction as a direct result of the vow he broke is a
clear warning against breaking the sanctity of a promise given.

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