Melissa Rudder's Reviews > Medea and Other Plays

Medea and Other Plays by Euripides
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Sep 13, 08

Read in September, 2002

** spoiler alert ** Medea, by Euripides, was a fairly entertaining and extremely fast read. When I read these Greek tragedies and write about them, I always feel so silly because I go through the plays so quickly that it’s as if I’m writing about a short story and not a full length play, so I don’t have much to say.

I was discussing Greek tragedies in one of my classes when I realized that they do not act now as Aristotle proposed they did in ancient times. Aristotle maintained that tragedies created a feeling of catharsis: purging or purification. Basically some emotional response that stems from feeling pity toward either the chorus (people in general), the victims, or the protagonist (apparently the scholars don’t agree quite on who you’re suppose to feel sorry for). Yeah, well, the thing is, I definitely do not. For instance, in Medea, you’re suppose to feel bad for her, because she did all this horrible stuff that alienated her from her people for Jason and then Jason betrayed her. And you’re supposed to feel bad for Jason because his new bride and father-in-law and kids get murdered. (I can spoil the ending, because in Greek tragedy, it’s never a surprise.) The plot is just so far fetched and distant that I just kind of sit back, amused at it all. Not that the concepts of jealousy and revenge don’t move me, affect me, blah blah blah. It’s just that they aren’t presented in a way that gets to me. Catharsisizes me, if you will. Apparently my spell check won’t; it didn’t really like that.

So, in entertaining myself with the soap opera of Greeks, I was most amused by Euripides’ portrayal of women. Women were definitely empowered through the role of Medea, an intelligent, strong-willed woman who did not let a cheating man get the best of her. Nevertheless, women, or at least women who do not submit to men, are portrayed as evil and malicious. It was really funny… I mean insulting…

There weren’t any remarkably stunning jewels of wisdom, but I found some misogynistic quotes to laugh/cringe at:

“We were born women—useless for honest purposes,
But in all kinds of evil skilled practitioners” (Medea).

“…If women didn’t exist,
Human life would be rid of all its miseries” (Jason).

So, as I am an evil women, I feel the urge to quit with this review and go ruin someone’s life. “Fate sends me as a curse” (Medea).
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