Representation of Society in Euripides' Medea
During the time of Euripides, approximately the second half of the fifth century B.C., it was a period of immense cultural crisis and political convulsion (Arrowsmith 350). Euripides, like many other of his contemporaries, used the whole machinery of the theater as a way of thinking about their world (Arrowsmith 349). His interest in particular was the analysis of culture and relationship between culture and the individual. Euripides used his characters as a function to shape the ideas of the play (Arrowsmith 359).
In Medea, there was not a "traditional" hero, but a fragmentation between the two paired major characters, which is characteristic of Euripides' work (Arrowsmith 356). Jason and Medea, the initial lovers of the play, were antagonists by the play's end. Euripides sought to take the wholeness of the old "hero" and represent him divisively, thus diffused over several characters. Since Euripides chooses that his characters represent ideas, the paired antagonist Jason and Medea both represent the warlike modes of a divided culture (Arrowsmith 357). The divided culture was perhaps what Euripides experienced during his lifetime.
Euripides was interested in how culture affected things. He was not the typical writer and his characters confirm this. In Medea, Euripides wanted his characters to participate in a culture that was under extreme stress, perhaps the same stress that his culture was experiencing. He exhibited this by writing as if his characters were transplanted into a different culture, unique from their own, as if to use the unfamiliarity as psychological strain. Therefore the strain would...