Medea

Form and themes

The form of the play differs from many other Greek tragedies by its simplicity: All scenes involve only two actors, Medea and someone else. The Chorus (A staple in Greek theater) would also usually be involved along with those two, representing the women of Corinth. These encounters serve to highlight Medea's skill and determination in manipulating powerful male figures to achieve her own ends. The play is also the only Greek tragedy in which a kin-killer makes it unpunished to the end of the play, and the only one about child-killing in which the deed is performed in cold blood as opposed to in a state of temporary madness.[8]

Euripides' characterization of Medea exhibits the inner emotions of passion, love, and vengeance. The character of Medea has variously been interpreted as either fulfilling her role of "mother and wife" and as acting as a "proto-feminist".[9] Feminist readings have interpreted the play as either a "sympathetic exploration" of the "disadvantages of being a woman in a patriarchal society",[2] or as an expression of misogynist attitudes.[10] In conflict with this sympathetic undertone (or reinforcing a more negative reading) is Medea's barbarian identity, which would antagonize a 5th-century Greek audience.[11]


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