Comparing Women's Revenge in The Oresteia and Medea
Clytaemnestra and Medea are two women who are seeking justice for a wrong committed by their husbands. Clytaemnestra?s husband, Agamemnon, did not wrong here directly but rather indirectly. Agamemnon sacrificed their daughter Iphigeneia, in order to calm the Thracian winds. For Clytaemnestra this brought much hatred towards Agamemnon. Here Agamemnon had betrayed Clytaemnestra and their daughters trust, and for that she sought revenge. Medea's husband, Jason, had dishonored her with his unfaithfulness. Medea sought to kill everything that was important in Jason's life in order to seek justice. Clytaemnestra and Medea are similar but yet different in the ways that they define justice, setup up their victims, carry out the just sentence and in the end justify their actions.
Clytaemnestra feels the only justice for the death of her daughter, Iphigeneia, is the death of Agamemnon. ?Act for an act, wound for wound!? is the only justification that Clytaemnestra cans see (Agamemnon 1555). Medea also sees death as the only justification for her husbands? unfaithfulness. ?To stay here, and in this I will make dead bodies / Of three of my enemies, -father, the girl and my husband?(Medea 370-71). Medea says here that she wishes to kill Kreon, the father of the princess Jason will wed, the princess and Jason. Although she never kills Jason, she does successfully kill Kreon and the princess. Medea later says that she must also kill her children to cause Jason pain. In their defining justice Clytaemnestra and Medea both feel death is the only justice. However, with Medea she does not intend to kill Jason.
In order for Clytaemnestra to seek justice for her daughters? death, she had to make Agamemnon feel as though nothing was wrong. Clytaemnestra gives a big speech when Agamemnon arrives telling everybody how ?great the love she bore her husband, and the agonizing grief she had suffered in his absence?(Hamilton 253). She laid red tapestries for him to walk on, and made him feel as though he was worthy enough to walk on them. Like Clytaemnestra, Medea uses her words to make Kreon and Jason feel as though she is being sincere. Medea convinces Kreon to let her have another day before she is banished, by telling him that she needs to find a place to live and that she needs to ?look for support? for her children (Medea 337-339). Medea tells Jason that she is wrong for what she has said and that he is right for marrying a princess, because it will be better for their children (Medea 845-954). Clytaemnestra and Medea set their victims up by making them feel as though nothing is wrong.
Clytaemnestra decides the way to kill Agamemnon is while he is bathing, there he is defenseless. Clytaemnestra carries out the sentence that she sees just by slashing Agamemnon with a sword three times. Then she kills Cassandra, Agamemnon?s concubine he received for defeating Troy, whom she sees as a nuisance if left...