Thursday, September 16, 2010

Medea and Jason: Who is the Tragic Hero?

Since the action in Euripides' Medea revolves around Medea's plan to take revenge against her unfaithful husband, many readers probably jump to the conclusion that Medea is the tragic character in the play. I could certainly argue that Medea embodies many tragic characteristics. However, I could similarly contend that Jason is the true tragic figure in Medea. I consider the end of the play morally ambiguous; thus, the tragic character's identity is unclear. Who do you consider to the be true tragic character?

31 comments:

Chloe said...

I agree with Collin that Madea possesses several characteristics of a typical tragic hero, but I view Jason as the true tragic figure. Despite his new relationship, he is stripped of all the things he truly loves when Madea poisons his lover and their own two children. Her evil understates her ability to evoke pity from either the chorus or a potential audience. In the end, Jason is the one who's left with nothing, so he purges his sorrows through a melancholy catharsis.

Julia Dean said...

I agree with Chloe that Jason is the true tragic hero. Jason, like Oedipus in Sophocles's "Oedipus Rex," is shocked and horrified when he realizes his fate. He came from noble status, but he committed the sin of the adultery and underestimated Medea's rage. After Medea murders their children, he discovers how his initial, excessive passion for Medea led to both of their downfalls. At the end of the play, Jason states: "I wish I had never begot them to see them afterwards slaughtered by you."

chrissy said...

I think Jason is the tragic figure in this play. One of the characteristics of a tragic hero is that they are noble, yet make mistakes. Their tragic flaw, a misjudgment of a situation. It can be argued that Jason makes only one wrong move, planing to marry the daughter of the King of Creon. Medea, on the other hand, is a horrible person from the beginning. She betrayed her family and cut up the body of her own brother. Granted her actions were to benefit Jason, she is constantly seen as a person with flaws. She is wrong from beginning to end and therefore could not make one tragic flaw.

Olivia Celata said...

According to Aristotle's definition, Medea could never be a tragic hero, only because she is a woman. However, even if that was not taken into consideration, I still believe that Jason is the tragic character in Euripides' Medea. Jason is "preeminently great" yet not perfect, since he commits the sin of adultery. He is also someone that readers can identify with, because he is somewhat of a sympathetic character.

Blaine said...

I believe Jason is the true tragic hero in the play. He is noble and is of high stature yet, like all tragic heroes, he exhibits a tragic flaw. Jason's adulterous acts eventually lead to his downfall. He underestimates Medea's rage and is ultimately left wifeless and childless. Medea, on the other hand, can not be considered the tragic hero because her evil and sadistic behavior causes the reader feel little to no pity for her.

Steven said...

In my mind beyond any doubt, Medea is not a tragic hero; she is not a hero in any respect, though her tale is certainly a tragic one. But I have a tough time placing Jason into the play as a tragic hero as well. According to Aristotle, the fault of the tragic hero will result in a consequence that evokes pity and fear in the audience. Clearly the audience would be mortified that this myth could easily become a reality for men. But I don't personally find myself pitying over Jason. At the start of the play, he is the most selfish character of all. Medea is the one who gives up her family and history out of passion. Jason on the other hand continues marrying for class status purposes; he intends on advancing his name. And when Medea takes away his posterity, his heart is broken--not out of emotion for his own children but out of pity for himself because his lineage has been cut off.

efabio said...

I did not think for a moment that Medea was the tragic hero when I read this story. I think Jason fits the description much better, and as was said, he is of nobility and makes but one mistake, adultery. Because it was this one act that ultimately led to his downfall, I believe Jason to be the true tragic hero in this story. Medea's flaws are too numerous and revolting for me to consider sympathizing with her.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing tragic about Jason. He is a misogynist who underestimates Medea's intellect and strength. He has an awfully high opinion of himself too. Medea is the victim of a society that is dominated by men. Read Episode 1 lines 214-265 to see what I mean.

Rose said...

I thought Jason was at first, but we don't see a flaw that is present throughout the play. You might be able to say "betrayal" but he only betrays her once or twice. I can't figure out what Medea's flaw would be...

somya rastogi said...

ya i agree that jason is d ultimate sufferer... though medea avenges her fate..jason is d one who is left vd nothing...but moreover jason is a pliant and spinless character...ds undermines his heroic qualites over medea... so by fate jason's tragedy is bigger than f medea but by peculiarites of a hero..medea stands unbeatable.

Anonymous said...

Medea was not a tragic heroine. Aristotle asserts 4 characteristics of a tragic hero.He says that the hero of a tragedy should be good, appropriate, close to reality and consistent.Now if we analyze the character of Medea we will see that she is not good. she is all evil. coming to the second point, we will see that she is not appropriate as a woman. As she is a women so she has to act like a woman but we can see her acting with the strength and courage of a man except in the very beginning of the play. then there is the third point and that is that a character shoud be close to reality. but if we see Medea, she is obeviously not close to reality. she is a half God half human. she is not a mortal. so she is not close to reality. the only point which fits on Medea is consistency. she always acts in extremes. one thing more which Aristotle says about a tragic hero is that it should must be a man. no women can be a hero according to Aristotle's concepts. another point is that the down fall of the hero should provoke pity and fear but the end of Medea is not something which provoke pity and fear. we sympathise with Medea only in the starting speeches but at the end we leave the theatre with the feelings that some punishment should be imposed on Medea in consequences of her evil acts. so in all aspects wer can say that Medea is not a tragic heroine.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I believe Medea is the tragic hero. A tragic hero is a literary character who makes an error of judgement or has a fatal flaw that brings on tragedy. Her fatal flaw is nothing more than loving whole heartedly. She did kill her father and brother, abandon those near and dear to her, and betray everyone for Jason, the man she loved. But Medea killed her own children out of LOVE. Only a true mother can sympathize with this action. Imagine, your parents set a church on fire and many died, leaving them to the electric chair or whatever other means. You'd have to live with this for the rest of your lives. Medea's children would have had to suffered from her Mother's actions, living a life of hell. Medea loved her children dearly, but she's rather have them dead than suffer a wretched life caused by her mistakes. She lost her father, her brother, her family, her loved ones, her friends, her home, her husband, and her children. What more can a human being lose?

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