Medea by Euripides: Marginalization and Mistreatment
Medea is an ancient Greek tragedy written by Euripides that focuses on the myth of Jason and Medea, initially published back in 431 BC. Though in a patriarchal environment, Medea portrays a powerful ability that is not only confusing but also inspiring. She holds a controversial character in Euripides that portrays her as a victim and a murderer. According to the storyline, she exercises her fighting spirit in a foreign society, which views women as objects without independence and freedom (Ah-See 601). Disaster occurs to her because she is not submissive to the principle of being a woman in a male-dominated environment. In the exploration, Medea’s behaviors show a natural response of a marginalized individual, fighting unjust treatment and disrespect from the male.
In ancient Greece, male domination restricted women from voicing their concerns and opinions. This bias created an imbalanced society, and Medea had to comply. Masculinity in this region provoked women to go to the extreme in terms of behavior. The male individuals utilized this opportunity to overemphasize traits that showed manly bravery by exercising physical prowess. They would take advantage of women like Medea, stating that they are useless in families. Siting Jason as an example, the dominant gender would easily leave some of these women to get with someone younger (Nugent 41). This act and others coerced the wives to appear marginalized. Some of the victims, such as Medea, would react by demanding respect and recognition, making them counter the male’s dominance with existing possibilities.
Medea knew she was a supportive wife to Jason, a favor that was abused. After learning Jason had preferred to marry another younger woman and neglected his obligation as a loving husband, she realized the betrayal. This society’s situation was favorable to men who were given the majority of power and provided for themselves and their families. Women were made content with the position of possession because they were not given priority to empower themselves. Much worse, women were getting married with the help of arrangements made by their fathers. Regardless of their displease in this regard, they had no obligation to speak their concerns. Therefore, their destiny was predetermined, showing that women in society were greatly marginalized because they had no liberty of making choices as per what they preferred.
As soon as Medea understood the position of women in her society, she made several debatable decisions. Through the love she had for Jason, Medea offered herself to aid her husband on the account that he honors and marries her. She made him swear an oath as a way of ensuring her livelihood was secured. Through her influence, she helped her husband Jason escape from Colchis and win the fleece. She sacrificed her dignity by betraying her family and went further to murder her brother (Nugent 37). By using the power of her mouth, she tricked Pelia’s daughter into killing their father so that Jason could inherit the throne. She knew as a marginalized woman; her life depended on the success and love of her husband. Unfortunately, Jason proceeded with plans of marrying the daughter of the King of Corinthians to seal his image as a royal. Being offended because of this act, Medea became furious and vowed to avenge.
Therefore, the core theme of the story revolves around the desire to avenge for mistreatment and disrespect that a person has experienced for a long time. This is a natural feeling that Euripides considers essential to discuss in the context of social injustice. Medea committed an extreme act when she killed Jason’s wife and father. Though this is a heinous act, she was rightfully expressing her displeasure, even though violently. This situation proves she was an oppressed person because she thought that she deserved respect and recognition due to what she had done for Jason. Arguably, any person who aids another one to succeed in whatever measure deserves reverence and gratitude.
After realizing she had gone to the extreme to offend the community and her husband, she opted to flee. She became an Athens and a concubine or wife to King Aegeus. Her choice of becoming a wife again was not willful but coerced by the situations she was going through. Medea went ahead to attempt to kill King’s son, Theseus, an act which made her start wandering from one city to another. Any person as marginalized as she would seek reprisal on anyone who contradicts her wish. This is what she was going through, a situation that reveals she was living in anger. As a person controlled by emotions, Medea felt that her logic was justified.
To conclude, Euripides paradoxically represents Medea. She lives a life of an avenger and a victim, a mother, and a villain. In this case, she appears as a contradictory figure that fits well in the position of a relegated person, seeking to retaliate and protect her life. The driving force occurs through her overwhelmed power and determination. Even though marginalized as a woman, the story portrays her as a capable, strong, and proud woman. Her oppressors made her able to break through all the ancient rules of a woman who should be submissive and compliant. What pushes her to the extreme is the fact that she was stuck in a community where women were supposed to be less intelligent and dependent on men. This situation defined her character in terms of fighting to overcome obstacles to success.
Medea’s personality put hers right in the center of Euripides, a story that portrays women as concealed and submissive. Her charisma enabled her mission of fighting as a woman who was believed to be treated unjustly and disrespected. For a person with a strong will and desire to get justice, it is a natural act of fighting back to stand, considering the environment gave her the platform to get revenge and give her oppressors what they deserve. Besides being a woman who should obey men, she struggles in a foreign environment. Her acts of wandering from one city to another are equally relevant, as this is what any other foreigner would do in the hosting city.
In conclusion, it is essential to note that Medea’s actions show that she was disrespected and treated unjustly. In natural principle, a woman who has been betrayed by her husband will always be looking for revenge, just like Medea did. This shows that when some members of society are oppressed, issues will continually arise from such restrictions. Therefore, Medea is an oppressed person because she is undermined instead of getting the respect and recognition she deserves.
Ah-See, Kim. “Medea.” British Journal of General Practice, vol. 62, no. 604, 2012, p. 601.
Nugent, S. Georgia. (1993) “Euripides’ Medea: The Stranger in the House.” Comparative Drama, vol. 27, no. 3, Web.