How does Medea comment on the women’s situation in general? What makes her situation particularly bad?
Early in the play, Medea claims, “of all creatures that have life and reason we women are the sorriest lot” (Euripides lines 229-230). Proving it, she also gives strong arguments. For instance, a woman never knows what kind of husband she will get. Nevertheless, she has to dedicate her life and body to serve and satisfy him. If she is not good at playing her role, she can even be exposed to violence. All of these are justified by the fact that women are safe at home while their husbands often face battle.
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However, Medea says, “I would rather stand three times in the line of battle than once bear a child” (Euripides lines 250-251). What makes it even worse for Medea is that she is a foreigner and has no family or friends to protect and support her.
What argument does Jason make in defense of his decision to marry Kreon’s daughter?
In defense of his decision to remarry, Jason states that it would be better for all parties, including Medea and the children. Since he is going to marry a king’s daughter, their children will have a better position in society, more money, and respect. Moreover, if Medea could be less selfish and put her pride and jealousy away, she would be thankful to him. As for me, I do agree that there is an element of truth in his words. However, I am sure that it is only an excuse, but not the reason for his actions. Besides, although the author lauds Jason’s reasoning, his decision is not fully justified.
Why Jason can abandon Medea and marry the princess of Corinth? Why is there no violation of the law on his part?
At the time when the play was written, only a child of an Athenian father and Athenian mother could be recognized as a new Athenian citizen (“Women and Family in Athenian Law ” par. 2). Moreover, marriages with foreigners were not considered as marriages at all. So, although Medea and Jason called each other husband and wife, there were no legitimate bonds of marriage. That is why Jason’s actions were not perceived as a violation of the law.
Analyze the formation of the decision to kill the children in Medea’s mind
There are several reasons why Medea decided that killing her children was the best possible option. First of all, she obviously wanted revenge. As proof of it, she states, “this will cause my husband to feel the most pain” (Euripides line 817). However, there also were other reasons that had nothing to do with revenge. She did not want to leave her children with Jason since they would be treated as second-rate because of their barbarian origins. On the other hand, she could not let them live with her since she had nothing to offer to them. Finally, she claims, “there is no one who will rescue them”, and decides to kill them for lack of a better option (Euripides line 793).
Some critics point out that Medea is just a witch who cannot be regarded as representative of Athenian women. Is such a view justified?
Yes, this point of view deserves to exist and even can be partly justified. Medea was a daughter of the god of the sun and could do spells. She had enough time to plan her revenge and she indeed escaped the consequences of her action. However, her character still can be regarded as representative of Athenian women. She proved that women could fight for themselves and were capable of acts.
How does the contrast between barbarian and Greek function in the play?
Besides Medea, there are several other women in the play, including Jason’s new wife (who does not appear on the stage but is described) and the women of Corinth. The main difference between those women and Medea who is non-Greek (a barbarian) is that she has skills in witchcraft and is willing to abandon her country or even kill people whom she loves. After finding out that his children are dead, Jason says, “there is no Greek woman who would have dared such deeds, any of whom I could have married” (Euripides lines 1339-1340). He also claims, “I brought you, so hideous a monster, into Greece” (Euripides line 1330).
Euripides. Medea n.d. Web.
Women and Family in Athenian Law 2003. Web.