Thursday, September 20, 2012

Medea vs Jocasta

Everyone is so scandalized in Medea because she murdered her children. However, in Oedipus the King, Jocasta and Laius pin Oedipus' legs together when he was a baby and sent him to die in the mountains - only because they wanted to avoid a prophecy that ended up becoming true anyways. How is Medea's act any different from Jocasta's? Yet we place more emphasis on the horror of Medea. Does avoiding a prophecy make it right to kill your child but revenge doesn't? No one speaks out against Jocasta's actions, but when Medea murders her children she becomes a monstrosity. Is it because she's a foreigner? I found it interesting that Jason says no Greek woman would ever do such horrible things, but, using Jocasta as an example, some of them do. 

4 comments:

TSHAH said...

You bring up a great point, and it really got me thinking. I think that Medea is much more criticized than Jocasta because Medea made her ploy to seek revenge public and actually succeeded, while Jocasta and Laius kept their plan secret from the rest of the town and failed. No one knew of Jocasta's and Laius's plan to prevent the prophesy until Oedipus himself uncovered it, and considering by that time Oedipus had already killed his father makes Jocasta's and Laius's effort to prevent to prophesy justified. Whereas, Medea using her her children as pawns is much less justified because her children had no role in the affair with Jason, however she chose to kill them in the crossfire anyway. Medea shows no respect for her children as she refuses to provide them with a proper burial just to spite Jason, which to me makes her a truly horrific character.

Mitchell D said...

I actually do think what Jocasta did was really a horrible act, but it seems she did it knowing that it was an awful thing to do. If she wouldnt have done it, the child would have had a cursed life with hardships that no one should endure. On the other hand Madea did it because she was upset with someone and those children could have grown up to be great people. Jocasta did it anticipating a future problem for her entire family and the child itself, while Madea was the instigator of her family's troubles. That's why I personally think what Madea did was worse, but im not saying Jacosta's actions are justified.

Laura N said...

Both women don’t seem to posses to best qualities in either story. Medea is manipulative, vengeful, extremely emotional, and irrational. Jocasta doesn’t seem to be the most rational person either, and she tries to deny and diminish the importance of the oracles and fate planned by gods. Neither woman in either story have impeccable character as they are both perpetrators of infanticide, or at least attempted it. Why was it Jocasta and Medea who tried to kill their kids? It could have been Lauis in Oedipus Rex or no one in Medea. Perhaps this is yet another jab at women as sinful people.

Ben Bonner said...

I think we view the actions of Jocasta and Medea differntly because of the differing levels of guilt of the parties they wronged. In Jocasta's attempt to kill Oedipus, though he himself had done nothing wrong, it had been prophesied that he would eventually kill his father. Assuming then that the will of the gods is fixed, it is more understandable that Jocasta would cast him out the way she did (although killing him directly one would think would be more effective). In the case of Medea on the other hand, the children were in no way responsible for any of the events which makes their deaths seem far less acceptable in the eyes of the reader.