Saturday, September 22, 2012

Who really is the tragic hero in Medea?

            By definition a tragic hero is: someone who is highly renowned and prosperous, though not pre-eminently virtuous or just, and who falls due to an error in judgment or frailty and causes the audience to feel pity and fear.
Medea, was royalty in Colchis and came to Greece as a refugee, but marries Jason which, in my view, still makes her renown and prosperous. She is not totally virtuous, as we can see by her manipulation of Jason and Aigeious and in her fiery temper. Her frailty and error in judgment could be that she let herself be driven too much by her powerful passionate love for Jason. (her love was so fierce, she was willing to kill her own brother). His betrayal hurt her so terribly causing her love to turn into hatred.  We certainly are horrified by the slaughter of her children, but personally, I didn’t feel sorry for her.  Instead, I was shocked and frustrated by her irrationality.  Before she slaughtered her kids, I felt sorry for her because her feelings were so hurt by Jason and because of how she was treated as a woman. Therefore, I think Medea is the tragic hero….but Jason certainly has tragedy thrust upon him as well.  Could Jason be the hero instead, even though he didn't have the most lines? Could they both be tragic heroes in a sense? 


Madeline Davis said...

Personally, I don't view Jason as a tragic hero. Yes, he was renowned and prosperous, and his error in judgment led to the murder of his children, but I don't feel that he invokes much pity from the audience. In my opinion, the audience can easily pity Medea for her irrationality and bad judgment, but I found it very hard to pity Jason for being such (for lack of a better word) an ass. At the end of the play, I was just mad at Jason for starting the problem and handling it so poorly. As an audience member, I regret Jason's initial poor choices and Medea's harsh reaction to them, but I don't feel that Jason's situation invokes pity and fear.

Ben Bonner said...

I'd argue that Jason is the tragic hero. Firstly, Medea, though widely renowned, is not prosperous, and I don't think it would have been possible for a woman in ancienct Greece to be considered prosperous unless they were royalty. Secondly I don't feel any pity for Medea. The retribution she brings on Jason vastly exceeds his transgressions. Not to mention the fact that if Medea hand't been so publically vocal about her frustration, she wouldn't have been exiled in the first place.