Medea: Feminism in a Man's World

Although Euripides was known for his propensity to challenge tradition and complacency, his Medea was quite controversial when it was introduced in 431 B.C. in Classical Greece (ca. 479-323 B.C. ). Athenian society, a man's world by organization, had no place for women outside of the home. When a girl was young, she was ruled over by her father, and after he chose whom she would marry, her new master was her husband, and she "received much male advice on the subject of staying home and being quiet" (Bowra 85). Women basically shared an equal status with slaves in Athenian society, having no privileges and certainly no power other than that power held within the home over servants. The culture expected women to display great virtue and to fully submit to their husbands. Not only is Medea a woman, she is also a foreigner, placing her at an even lower status. Nevertheless, she exercises power over her husband as well as every other character whether female or male, and she does so using extreme violence. Written in what certainly could be called a male-dominated society and time, Euripides' Medea is a feminist piece and Euripides' himself, traditionally believed to be a misogynist, is quite the opposite.


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