Feminism In Medea By Euripides Essay

1029 words - 4 pages

Feminism in Medea by Euripides

The play Medea by Euripides challenges the dominant views of femininity in the patriarchal society of the Greeks. While pursuing her ambition Medea disregards many of the feminine stereotypes/ characteristics of the patriarchal Greek society. She questions the inequality of women in a patriarchal society, contradicts Jason?s chauvinist beliefs, challenges the stereotype that women are weak and passive and completely disregards the feminine role of motherhood. Feminism is the belief that women and men are, and have been, treated differently by society, and that women have frequently and systematically been unable to participate fully in all social arenas and institutions. This belief is confirmed in ancient Greece where the status of women was very low. Aristotle describes the relationship between men and women during that time period: ?It is the best for all tame animals to be ruled by human beings. For this is how they are kept alive. In the same way, the relationship between the male and the female is by nature such that the male is higher, the female lower, that the male rules and the female is ruled.? Aristotle, Politica, ed. Loeb Classical Library, 1254 b 10-14.

Plato ascribes the inferior status of women to degeneration from men: ?It is only males who are created directly by the gods and are given souls. Those who live rightly return to the stars, but those who are ?cowards or [lead unrighteous lives] may with reason be supposed to have changed into the nature of women in the second generation?. This downward progress may continue through successive reincarnations unless reversed. In this situation, obviously it is only men who are complete human beings and can hope for ultimate fulfillment; the best a woman can hope for is to become a man? (Plato, Timaeus 90e).

In Greek society, a woman was confined within the parental home until a husband was chosen for her. Then she was transferred to the home of her husband where she was to fulfill her principal function, the bearing and rearing children. Medea shows the inequality of women in Greek society. The betrayal of Medea by Jason through his marriage to another woman enrages Medea. She begins to question the role and position of women in a patriarchal society. "Are we women not the wretchedness? We scratch and save a dowry to buy a man?Our lives depends on how his lordship feels. For better for worse we can?t divorce him."(p.8, Medea). However, "a husband tired of domesticity, Goes out sees friends and enjoys himself?."(p.8and 9, Medea). Medea compares the virtual slavery of women to the absolute freedom of men, showing the inequality and disempowerment of women in society at that time.

Jason?s chauvinist beliefs are put under the microscope. Jason airs his views about what all women want: "If they?re (women) happy in bed, they?re happy everywhere". By comparing Medea?s pure feminism to Jason?s selfish chauvinism, Euripides...

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