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"Medea" By Euripides, The Embodiment Of The New Female In Greek Society.

1263 words - 5 pages

In Euripides' Medea, the protagonist, portrayed as the main character, abandoned the gender roles of ancient Greek society. As a result of this, Euripides invented a new version of the gender "female." Medea defied perceptions of gender by exhibiting "male" characteristics while existing in the bounds of the "female" mentality. Medea brings a sense of manly courage to woman's gender by slaying Creon and Creusa. She brings power and hubris, decidedly male characteristics, to a woman's role by slaying her own children, in a society where women's identity was dependent on having a husband and bearing children. Finally, Medea does not commit suicide, as do the other Greek "heroines" of the time but she takes on male behavioral characteristics as she exhibits intelligence and an ability to control herself emotionally as she designs her plot for retribution. Medea is determined not to let herself become the traditional female victim in a Greek tragedy. She insists on her right to do what her male counterparts have traditionally done in the past.In ancient Greek society, murder is commonly associated with male protagonists, in fact, the crimes that Medea commits are no worse than the kinds of butchery committed by the great male heroes of tragedy and epic commonly associated with women. One of these crimes is the courageous slaying of her brother which she claims she has done for the sake of Jason, lamenting, "Oh My Father! Oh my country! In what dishonor / I left you, killing my own brother for it" (6, 24-25). She further goes on to justify and rationalize her plans for the murder of Creon and his daughter Glauke, and she does not have any remorse but feels it is just retribution for her dishonor. "If I can find the means or devise any scheme / To pay my husband back for what he has done to me-/Him and his father-in-law and the girl who married him-/...For in other ways a woman / is full of fear, defenseless, dreads the sight of cold / Steel; but when once she is wronged in the matter of love, / No other soul can hold so many thoughts of blood" (9, 23-29). When Medea says that she is "one who can hurt my enemies and help my friends" (26, 26), she is essentially justifying her actions according to certain "code" of behavior traditionally set aside only for male heroic, just and courageous actions. Medea represents herself as the "new female", she attempts to strike at the very heart of the patriarchy in which she is bound, and seeks to destroy Jason's identity as he destroyed hers.In ancient Athenian society, women could only aspire to a single identity--that of a wife and mother. She loses this semblance of an identity when Jason marries Creon's daughter. Medea has none of the traditional male options available to her to regain her lost honor, such as personal combat or duel with her enemy or rushing into battle. Women at this time had only one destiny and one fate--to marry and have children. When her honor, her very identity, is taken from her, she...

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