Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I want to talk about Medea

Please?

26 comments:

tmichals said...

Finally something that does not revolve around incest... I think Medea has something really powerful about her, yet a little creepy at the same time.

puddlewonderful said...

Sorry, Taylor!

I don't think Jason really cares that much for his children. Yeah, he "tries" to make provisions for them, but I think it's more because he feels guilty about breaking his oath to Zeus and abandoning Medea and them than out of real paternal love. He's really just a power-seeker-- he uses people to move forward. There's a line in there, after Medea rejects his help, where he basically says "Okay, gods, look! I tried to help. Case closed." If he loved them, he would've persisted, demanded that she allow him to give them a better future. But he didn't, because he doesn't care. He speaks not with the voice of reason, but with the voice of rationalization. He's really only looking out for number one.

Dean Elazab said...

Well the marriage was failing for some time and jason needed to move on. His whole quest was for power with the fleece and he wanted to keep going to become king.

Caroline said...

I agree, Jason is completely selfish and doesn't ever really consider the fate of his children if they are exiled. Additionally, he blames Medea for being banished when he put her in this awful position.

tmichals said...

Yeah Dean, but there's a difference in moving on and just being a complete "you know what" to your wife isn't there? I agree with Michelle completely in the fact that it does not seem like Jason cares much about Medea and the kids.

joel derby said...

No, Jason tells his new wife that he wants to keep his kids and have his wife except them as her own and raise them alongside their future children. Medea is crazy and irrationally chooses to kill her children when the issue could have been easily resolved. She had somewhere to go and she was moving into a palace, simply taking the children with her would have hurt Jason incredibly. Medea had a history of grotesque violence and overkill. Jason obviously loves his children, though his rationalization to Medea may seem a little fake, I believe that what he says about his children is true. Medea obviously thinks so since its the first thing she thinks of to hurt him terribly. Furthermore, in Greek culture, you needed male descends to carry on your family name and bloodline, even if Jason did not love his children for being his children, he loved them because he needed them to carry on his blood.

Mr. Plainview said...

The weak little kids are the only ones I really have sympathy for. Jason betrays his wife. Not cool. Medea kills Jason's new lover and her old man. Not cool. Aigeus just rubs me the wrong way. Not cool. The nurse and the tutor do nothing to stop Medea. Not cool. The messenger tells Medea to flee. By that point I had lost all respect for Medea. So...Not cool. The chorus really just commentates. That's okay I guess, but it's not really "cool". Nope, in the end I just feel sorry for the little tiddlywinks who just get slaughtered by Medea.

Aaron Nussdorf said...

i think that jason intended to care for his kids and wife, like providing for them; he just wouldnt live with them. not saying jason wasnt being selfish, he was; not say medea went over-the-top, she did. hopefully, jason would have been decent enough to care about the fate of his kids and astranged wife

ndepass said...

i think medea's role in the play is very interesting, and like we were saying in class, when she went to kill her children she took the role of a man by using a sword. i think that was interesting how she assumed that role from using poison which represents the completely opposite role.

puddlewonderful said...

Joel- Yeah, he wanted them for his bloodline-- I think I mentioned that in class-- but that's not love! That's pride! He only loves them as an affirmation of his own masculinity, as a tool for his self-preservation! Do you really consider that love, Joel? Would you be happy if your father only loved you because you would pass on his seed and his name?

Nuzz, I truly believe that Jason was only caring for them so as not to seem like a complete arse. So he was genuine-- yes, he would provide. But if he really loved his children, he would have insisted that Medea allow him to provide for them.

Define "easily resolved"? Medea, FOR JASON, has made enemies throughout Greece! Yes, she has Aijeus, but it's not exactly pleasant to live the rest of your life raising your children in someone else's hospitality! That's disgraceful and embarrassing-- as is being a wife shunted. Jason humiliated her and placed a stain on her name-- It was acceptable, appropriate, even proper at that time (in that culture) to seek revenge, I think-- look at Odysseus. The motivation, at least, is similar, even if the situations and the methods and the victims are not identical.

Stephen Gieger said...

I like Medea because it uses a woman as a focal point for mondern readers to discuss the social characteristics of the ancient Greeks. I think, as Doc pointed out in class, that the play is more comical in nature rather than intended to dictate the subordinate position that women held in anceint Greece.

JP said...

I'm trying to avoid "me-too" posts on here, but I agree with Brandon - nobody is innocent or in the right in Medea, with the exception of Medea's children.

On a completely different note from what we've discussed thus far, I think the play is an interesting commentary on the dangerous consuming powers of revenge. Medea kills her own children, just because she's mad and she's seeking some twisted version of justice. She sacrifices everything, just to tear somebody else down.

What's the point in that? Yes, Medea got her revenge - but could anyone say she came out on top by getting her way? It is ultimately a Pyrrhic victory for Medea: she gets her revenge, but she destroys her own life and her own blood in the process.

As for the chariot carrying her away at the end, I don't know. There's probably some significant symbolism to that, but like most supernatural happenings, it just seems like a random cop-out ending to me. Could somebody smart please explain the importance of the dragon-chariot taking the crazy woman away to me?

Aaron Nussdorf said...

jp, i think it makes her immortalized as crazy or evil [evil is the wrong word, but maybe you caught my drift]. it also demonstrates her power over "normal" things; it literally makes her untouchable to greek justice, where she would have most certainly have been killed. it adds a mystique to her, gives her a flare.---that's how i felt about her being scooped off the face of the planet, like remidios the bueaty in 100 Years

The said...
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puddlewonderful said...

Sorry, I posted with the halo account, so I deleted that comment. Here it is again:

I am not below "me too" posts, so I will say that I agree with Brandon about the characters' innocence(s?) and I agree with John about the consuming power of revenge. One might even posit that this desire for revenge is Medea's "hamartia"-- or perhaps it is her pride, whence her lust for revenge comes.

As for the chariot, I think it is a very, very powerful element-- not, as Aristotle accuses, a wimpy deus ex machina for an lazy, uninspired playwright. A god sends that chariot for Medea-- after all her murder and bloodshed, after the atrocities she's committed, a god rescues her-- simply because she is his granddaughter. The gods impose no order on the world; the limits we set on our own mortal conduct are our only laws. It is such a powerfully chaotic ending, such a fearsome, frightening fate for Greece, to see that bloodthirsty, revenge raging murderesses are rescued by gods. And yes, as Nussdorf says, that disorder adds to the terrifying mystique of Euripides' tragedy.

Ehren said...

I don't think Medea killing her children and Jason was a gender issue. It could have gone either way. I don't think loosing control is unique to one gender (not to say that its not completely irraitonal). Loss of control is natural to humans to some extent. Medea was just an exaggerated example of that.

puddlewonderful said...

But isn't bloodlust and rage considered a more masculine trait, as opposed to passivity and calm? What about "maternal instincts"? That phrase is a feminine stereotype/trait itself!--to characterize women as nurturers who raise and tend to and love children. You can't deny that those are stereotypes, be them true or not.

bballinsupasta said...

i think that Jason actually does believe he is making the best move because he wanted his kids to grow up as true greeks...and they would be more barbarian if the mother continued to raise them

bballinsupasta said...

i agree with gieger in that we tend to read a little too much into the play...even though most artistic compositions have some type of political or social agenda, above all they are meant to be enjoyed and in the case of plays, watched for entertainment

puddlewonderful said...

I disagree, Jane. Although plays-- especially in that era, and in Shakespeare's-- were meant to entertain the masses, I believe there is an inherent depth and genius in any great masterpiece, be it a play, a novel, or a piece of artwork. Indeed, I think that a truly great play exists on several planes-- on the surface as a successful means of entertainment, and on different levels beneath, each one an expression of a different theme or motif. Euripides, Sophocles, Shakespeare--these were great men, who wrote not only for their audience but also for themselves, for their inexorable creative urge, to satisfy their desire to express their genius and their sentiments via this artistic medium. I truly believe that men so brilliant cannot help but to impart multiple meanings unto their works.

El Paco said...

I'm not so sure that Euripides is introducing feminism through Medea, or even encouraging the reader to sympathize with Medea. I think that it's just re-telling a story from a different point of view to continue the misogynist and xenophobic mindset of the Athenians. I'm not saying that Medea isn't a tragic figure, because she certainly is, but aren't Jason and Kreon tragic figures too? (well, maybe not Kreon, but certainly Jason). By making Medea, the foreign woman, commit such heinous acts as killing her own children, Euripides is trying to make the reader/viewer lose all sympathy for Medea and, in a sense, increase their fear of foreigners and powerful women.

Alright - I know that that was really poorly written and not entirely cohesive...I had a really painful header last night at soccer practice and I haven't felt the same since....

Mr. Plainview said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joel derby said...

I agree, maybe it's because I'm a man, but I personally sympathize with Jason more than Medea. Jason is following the Greek ideals and Medea shows no rational thought anywhere throughout the play. Creon realizes that Medea is crazy, he expresses sympathy towards her, but knows that she is up to no good, he changes his mind and allows her a day and is murdered for it. At a point, it is impossible to sympathize for Medea, her acts are so heinous and irrational that I do not view her as a person. She becomes a monster in my mind, not worthy of sympathy.

That's a little harsh but its still true.

bballinsupasta said...

i think that people today would see medea as representing the modern woman if she were alive and doing the things she did because women today are encouraged to embrace their intelligence and stand up for themselves.

Manal said...

Personally, I did not like the character of Medea. She was so dramatic and her response was unneccessary. She did not have to kill her children. i see no justification in her act. However, Jason seems like he just made a simple mistake even if it was somewhat selfish by marrying the princess. but it happens. People do that to each other, but then the rejected one does not murder as a means for revenge. I agree with Andrew. to the greeks, Medea would not seem tragic for she was so un greeky. But Jason they can realte to and therefore can be a better tragic figure.

Margaret said...

Joel said, "At a point, it is impossible to sympathize for Medea, her acts are so heinous and irrational that I do not view her as a person. She becomes a monster in my mind, not worthy of sympathy."

But that's the thing, she IS a person. We like to classify people as monsters because we don't want to believe that we, ourselves, could be capable of such things. But we can be. Humans are humans, as horrible as we can be some times.

I didn't like Medea. Her selfishness and pride blinded her; this is what bothered me. Though back then, maybe it did bother people that she had broken the gender role. But then again--it was either our Arts & Ideas book or the Anthology--our text pointed out that there's the myth about Amazons. I don't know if they were respected or what, but I would say the Amazon civilization was a complete break from every social restriction on women. I think Greeks were fascinated with strong, beautiful, and independent women (i.e. Athena) which is why she was worshiped. But when it came to strong women in every day life, this was unacceptable. So, there's a hypocrisy there.