Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Conflicting Feelings Anyone?

Was I the only one with major conflicting feelings while reading Medea? 
On one hand, we have Jason. Firstly, he owes everything to Medea who helped him get the fleece in the first place. He makes a promise to marry her and he does. But then he decides to go and marry another woman - because she's a princess. Jason just wants to be king. So then, he lets Kreon exile Medea and his kids. Sure, Jason says he'll provide for them - but that doesn't make up for exile! I'm pretty sure kids nowadays get counselling for the emotional trauma of an absentee parent. But wait! There's more. Jason gets angry at his wife and starts lecturing her about how - yes, she saved his hide and practically got the Golden Fleece for him - but he saved her from a barbaric society and brought her to live among Greek intellectuals. So, Jason, it's not enough that you scorn the woman in bed, but then you scorn her family. Let's see how many insults he can throw. 1) She's not submissive enough (well, that's what she gets for being a woman whose actually intelligent) 2) He made her into what she is (without him, she'd still be a barbarian) 3) He's doing it for her and their children (Do I even need to explain the insult in this?) 4) "It would have been better far for men to have got their children in some other way, and woman not to have existed." (Well, at that point, if she hadn't sought revenge, I would've). So, all in all, not only does Jason abandon and betray his first family, he also throws a few insults for good measure. I will never watch Jason and the Argonauts through the same eyes again. 
So after that charming man, we have Medea. Yes, she gave up everything for Jason and he betrayed her (I think every woman suffers from bad taste in men at some point in her life - there should be counseling groups for it). Yes, she is perfectly justified in being angry. Society certainly wasn't doing anything to help, so Medea takes justice into her own hands - only her sense of justice is insane (Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!). There are limits to what the excuse "he left me for another woman" can make up for. Cursing your husband for eternity - sure, we can all understand that. Wanting to ruin his new marriage - okay, makes sense. Murder everyone involved and your innocent children - that's where we draw the line. I mean, even the chorus fully supported her want for revenge - right up until she decides to kill her own children. You really have to pity the kids. First, their father decides to ditch them for another family and then their mother murders them. They really don't get any breaks in life.
So basically, the two sides presented: Jason, the traitorous, cheating, pathetic excuse of a parent, and Medea, the angry, border-line crazy, child-murderer. 
What great choices.


Austin Falk said...

I agree with Lindsay's post. I think that this can be viewed in two ways either siding with Medea or Jason based on how you look at it. Sure Jason was wrong for leaving Medea for another woman. But who knows? Maybe it really was with good intentions. If he marries Glause, he will become part of the royal family of Corinth increasing both his status and his children's. Then again, maybe he did not have such good intentions and he did it for selfish reasons. Medea on the other hand, did sacrifice a lot in order to lead Jason to success even though the ways she sacrificed was wrong. It is no excuse to murder your brother and betray and abandon your family just to help your husband. Medea has every right to be mad at Jason while Jason has every right to not want to be mad at Medea. Medea sacrifices a lot for Jason, but what she does is kind of crazy. Her craziness and violence might have scared Jason away. I do not think it is fair to solely label Jason or Medea alone as the guilty party. However, they both make good choices and poor ones throughout the play.

Madeline Davis said...


Madeline Davis said...

Let's try this again:

Lindsay, that was perfect. I know I argued pro-Jason in class, but I found it difficult to view him as a good guy. Sure, Jason and Medea both have a few redeemable qualities and actions here and there, but the reader is generally presented with a no-win situation.
Personally, I found Jason naive to ever dare to anger Medea in the first place, even though he was completely aware of her short temper, fleeting loyalty, and willingness to use her sorcery skills to her advantage. As for Medea, I don't know if she was actually insane or just very short-tempered, but we can all agree that murdering her children was ridiculously harsh and unnecessary.
I found it very interesting that none of the main characters were easily pitied (I mean, nobody wants to cheer for an adulterer and a murderer.) Throughout the play, I tried to sympathize with the characters, but the second they redeemed themselves and I supported them, they turned around and did something else that completely changed my mind. I think this is also reflected in the chorus' inability to choose a side and root for the characters. As the witnesses, both the chorus and the reader are handed conflicting emotions, leading us to change sides repeatedly, ultimately recognizing that the play presents a no-win situation.

Okay, this post isn't nearly as good as the one that got deleted. This is so disappointing.