The Chorus In The Play Medea

1286 words - 5 pages

Topic 5 - 2009Discuss the role of the Chorus in Euripides' play Medea. In your answer you should focus especially on the Chorus' attitude to (a) Medea and (b) Jason.The play, Medea written by Euripides, tells of a woman who is seeking revenge for the angst caused by an unfaithful lover. An important element in this play is the Chorus composed of fifteen Corinthian women. In this play, the Chorus follows the journey Medea makes, and not only narrates, but commentates on what is happening. They fulfil the usual role of commenting on developments and of expanding their views on certain topics, for example, the horrors of being an exile or stateless or the pains that children bring. Euripides uses the Chorus as a literary device to raise certain issues and to influence where the sympathies of the audience lie. He does this by presenting to the audience a moral voice in the Chorus. The audience can relate to them, because the Chorus is in a neutral position in the play. Their role is not so much to influence the actual plot of the play, but more to echo what has happened in the plot and the thoughts of the protagonists, and to suggest moral solutions the audience. The Chorus serve as a sort of sounding board for Medea, a testing ground for her attitudes and her projects, as without her conversations with the Chorus, her plans would not develop as there would be no one to agree with her ideas or go along with her plans. The Chorus uses language which almost makes it seem that they are speaking from the perspective of the audience, and in doing this they are guiding the audience responses to what Euripides wants it to be.The most important thing about the Chorus in Medea is that they were women. This enabled them, in a way that a male chorus could not do, to play the role of confidante to Medea, to sympathise with her plight and to support her efforts to get revenge. It also facilitates their other strong role in the play which is to pose the whole anthesis between the male and female world which they do in their Choral Odes. The Choral Odes performed some of the same functions as the curtain does in the modern theatre. They could signify the end of a scene, give an opportunity for the actors to change and sometimes indicate a passage of time. Some Choral Odes offer direct comment on the action of the play or fill in the background to events. The playwright could also use his Chorus as an interpreter for the audience as seen in Euripides' Medea. The Chorus are sympathetic initially to Medea and so are we; later when they recoil from her crimes and their condemnation of Medea causes us to question our own feelings.The Chorus of Corinthian women has various roles in Medea. The Corinthian women sympathise with Medea throughout the play and repeat their sorrows for her. In the early part of the play, the Chorus is used by Euripides to set the scene, to prepare us for the entry of Medea and to give us some idea of her character. In their first speech they...

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