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World Literature

Set in Corinth in Greece, the whole play is enacted in a single scene in front of Medea's house. The nurse and chorus act as conscious-keepers of Medea and the attenders and messengers are employed by the playwright to depict scene shifts through their speech. In fact, the very opening of the play sets the tone of the horrific nature of events to follow. With a voice of doom of one of the nurses of Medea clearly indicates that her mistress, a victim of fate, is out to contrive some untoward scheme. The nurse acts as a foreteller of deeds to ensue. Through her speech we learn how in love she was with Jason and how her dangerous mood was capable of so much anger evil. "There is a subtle but fascinating theme of ethnic tension as Medea and Jason clash" (Mazza, Michael J) throughout the play. Medea lies fasting and weeping ever since she learnt that she was wronged by her husband, recalling memories of her dear father, her country and her home, which she gave up to come away with the man who now holds her in dishonor. Medea had antagonized her father and even killed her own brother in order to run away from a barbarious land to a land of promise along with Jason whom she blindly loves. "My love for you was greater than my wisdom" (lines 571-72) she says. After a series of adventures in which Jason is helped by Medea, they seek asylum in Corinth. Here they lead a respectable life and beget two children till they almost reach their middle age. Trouble brews when Jason gets restless with his complacent life. He wants a secure, wealthy future for his wife and children and hence resorts to infidelity. He wins the heart of Glauce, the daughter of Creon, king of Corinth. He tells Medea that it was not for love that he had promised to marry the princess, but to win wealth and power for himself and his sons. But Medea is infuriated and her unfailing love immediately turns to sheer anger. In a sense, it is Medea's own nature and vicious temper that proves her undoing. "Women don't like violence, but when their husbands desert them, that is different. In life, the worst disasters come from passion" (lines 467-69)
Medea gets into a constant state of confusion and anxiety. Initially she weeps over her hapless situation. She feels women are most wretched because they care for one man only. But she gains a little confidence when Aegeus, King of Athens grants her asylum in exchange for helping him beget children by her skills in sorcery. Aegeus realizes that her scorn is justified and sees her as a woman with remarkable forethought. "A brain like yours is what is needed" he says. He fully believes in her powers of creation which is equal to her powers of destruction, which is why he uses her witchcraft to make his queen beget children. With the success of each scheme Medea devises, her resolve hardens and reaches a point of no return. "One can clearly trace the progression within the play of a victim with certain heroic traits who, because of her ill fate and her ruthlessness, becomes a villain" (Kliegl, Michael) Deciding to take her plans forward, she manages to buy a day's time from Creon before she is sent on exile. Creon's fate is sealed even though he knows that Medea is "A clever woman, very experienced in evil ways" (lines ...Show more

Summary

Emotions of women know no middle path. Women's feelings are deep in the extreme- be it love, hate, revenge or fury. There is nothing women will stop at to achieve their end and not always does the end justify the means. William Congreve's quote "hell (hath) no fury like a woman scorned" is highly relevant and true of Medea, the protagonist of Euripides' play by that name.
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World Literature essay example
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