Medea Crash Course - Part 2: Context and Themes.

CONTEXT

  • By Greek playwright, Euripides, who we know wrote Women of Troy and other famous tragedies.

  • Inspired by the myth of Jason and Medea, which was renowned by all the Greeks.

  • Myths to Greeks are like Santa Claus or Jack Frost to us - we all know the tale.

  • He wrote the play around 431BC

  • Considered to be a psychological reading as to what drove Medea to commit such heinous crimes.

  • Set in a Greek city, Corinth some time after Jason and Medea completed their quest for the Golden Fleece.

  • It’s important to be somewhat familiar with Jason and Medea’s past before we get into the plot.

  • Jason and Medea met when he was on a search for the Golden Fleece, a blanket like material with powerful healing abilities.

  • They met in Medea’s father’s kingdom, Colchis, where Medea was a princess.

  • Medea was not just a princess, but an enchantress, and offered her help to Jason.

  • The condition to her help was that when he finds the fleece and leaves Colchis, that he marry her, and so he did, and they had two children together.


THEMES


Women and Femininity

  • This theme is the most predominant one throughout the play, as we focus on the mistreatment of Medea and the way the men perceive her.

  • Jason and King Creon especially speak poorly about her, accusing her of overreacting to Jason’s infidelity.

  • In fact, we see men’s expectations of women through Jason the most, when Medea pretends to submit to him, and he claims that ‘This is how a woman should behave’.

  • Overall, the play challenges men’s view of women, and displays the effects of sexism on women.

Revenge

  • The plot is all about how Medea plots her revenge against Jason and King Creon’s family.

  • Revenge is a major theme because it reflects how humans are driven to commit heinous crimes in response to being wronged by others.

  • In Medea’s case, we see that the victory of getting her revenge is far more important than the lives of her children.

Marriage

  • The idea of marriage is discussed throughout the play, as the norm in Ancient Greece was that men could have multiple wives.

  • Medea, although Jason has remarried, is still treated in a ‘wifely’ manner when she is doing what her husband expects of her.

  • Euripides criticizes Jason for his abuse of power by remarrying another woman while he has two children, displaying how marriage is not enough for the greedy to stay loyal.

Betrayal

  • To Medea, Jason’s affair with the Princess is the ultimate betrayal.

  • She had left her home land to be with Jason, only for him to kick her to the curb and leave her to care for her two children by herself.

  • Betrayal serves as a theme, as we view the negative impacts it has on Medea and how it drives her to exact revenge on Jason and Creon’s family.


That sums up our crash course on Medea. If you're looking for more personalised tips and tricks, have a look at our website and sign up for a trial lesson with us.

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