As the famous Greek playwright Euripides once said: “Stronger than lover's love is lover's hate. Incurable, in each, the wounds they make.” Such ideas are portrayed in one of him most famous plays, Medea. This play is a fascinating classic centered on the Greek goddess Medea. Despite its recent fame, during his time, Euripides was unpopular since he used what would be considered a ‘modern’ view where he would focus on women, slaves and persons from the lower classes. In the play, Medea commits filicide, which initially appears extremely horrendous, but as the audience is guided through the play, they develop sympathy towards Medea. In order to achieve this empathy and enhance the understanding of Medea’s pride and ideals, Euripides utilizes the Chorus, the Nurse, and the Children- all are which minor characters. Granted that these characters overall have overlapping roles and guide the audience towards the same concept, at some topics they disagree or contradict each other.
The Chorus in Medea consists of middle-aged Corinthian women who are present on stage throughout the entire act. Although in Medea, they defy their customary purpose of solely observing, and instead, they give their opinion on the events of the production and directly speak to the characters. Throughout the piece, they voice the audience’s thoughts, feelings, and questions towards the play, while elaborating on the consequences of the actions.
The choral role in the play extends to the Nurse. In Medea, Euripides uses the Nurse to introduce Medea and give an introduction to the play. The Nurse is the first character on stage; subsequently, she starts off the play by giving the audience the information needed to get into its disposition. The Nurse leads the audience’s feeling to the intended direction by inducing a sense compassion for Medea; she achieves this through explaining the implications of the situation. Before the viewers get to meet her in person, Euripides personalizes Medea through the Nurse; this technique is used to give more depth to her character, furthermore it prepares the audience for the oncoming events. The Nurse is also presented as Medea’s old friends even though she is a slave while Medea is goddess. This representation of a friendship, which crosses social boundaries, makes Medea seem fair and unbiased towards social classes unlike most typical characters in this era where the social clashes would represent a huge problem.
Although the Children are not active characters, they still give us much insight into Medea’s character. Despite the children’s fundamental role in the play, they are rarely seen on the stage and have very few lines. This may be due to the fact that children are very hard to control on stage, in most cases they simply do not have the level of discipline required to act. Euripides makes up for this by manifesting the presence of the children by always referring to them through other characters.
All of these minor characters...