Medea Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned Conflicts in Play • Husband • Man • Citizen • Wife • Woman • Foreigner Vocabulary • • • • • • • • Machiavel Xenophobe Misogynist Pragmatist Regicide Infanticide Patricide Fratricide The Paradox of Revenge Revenge • Revenge is both poetic justice and bloody justice • The revenge figure is a sign of the movement towards the destruction of chaos and a sign of chaos itself Alive Alive Dead Alive Dead Alive Revenge • Is feelings disguised as duty • The revenge figure moves outside the society’s code of behavior • What the revenger wants is itself a paradox: natural justice, a code of feeling aligned with a code of civilization • The revenger’s refusal or inability to go to the law puts him outside the social bonds that prompt his desire for revenge • He is a sign of chaos and a movement toward the destruction of chaos • This is typically why the revenge figure must die • The restoration of order requires the extinction of anti-social elements Beware of Binary Opposites • • • • Greek Reason Rational New Yorkers • • • • Barbarian Passion Superstitious Southerners Study Guide Medea • Compare Jason to other heroes you have studied. Does he seem heroic? What is virtuous or sleazy about him? What specifically has he done wrong? What motivates Jason? • This is still one of the most controversial plays ever written, with its evocations of women’s rights and Medea’s choice of infanticide. Consider carefully what you think of its awesome heroine. Pay close attention to how and when she makes the decision to kill her children. • Does Medea remind you of other women in myth? The audience would expect her to be a witch; does Euripides fulfill those expectations, or does he present a less than demonic woman? • Euripides, as Sophocles once said, drew men as they are, not as they ought to be. Do you agree? In what ways are his characters, plots, and actions more realistic? • Medea’s great speech is stunningly modern in its account of the injustices done to women in patriarchal societies. Medea may seem at times a frightening character, but compare her real ethical concerns with the rather shallow and scheming plans of Creon and Jason. Do you see any significance in the namelessness of her rival? • Consider the curious scene with Aegeus. Who is he and what is he doing there? What does the curious oracle given to him mean? • At the end of the play, where is Medea? What impact does her position have?