The two novels, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil and it's senior Medea, tell a story of a double-edged sword, like two mirrors facing each other in a corridor. These stories of women and the privation they face(d) are the only thing intertwining them both. Something we see repeat itself over the course of human history. Women must be thrusted upon unequalness to be compared. In the way these stories were written explores the century, the rules, the ideas the two leading characters were expected to obey to survive. The two authors tell us a similar story while coming from two different backgrounds. Their age, their sex, their decade is nothing alike.
This is something I will explore within this piece of writing. Within the first few chapters of both books, the audience can understand that not all marriages are perfect. In two completely different worlds and eras, the women can still share one commodity. They are the reason for their husband's infidelity. Jason reasoned his betrayal because Medea was "talking like a fool" (Euripides, 480-406 BC, p. 30). Following this Ruth's husband Bobbo wrote his disloyalty off because his wife needs to "learn how to behave better" (Weldon, 1983, p. 43). These men and their actions tie these wives together. This was the final Judas Kiss before we see the plot in the novels take place. The final act of revenge takes place just after these words were uttered. "There is no justice in the world's censorious eyes" (Euripides, 480-406 BC, p. 24.) "I want revenge. I want power. I want money. I want to be loved and not love in return". (Weldon, 1983, p. 43)
To explore more of the similarities these women share, is their relationship with their children. Despite the stories being written in two different centuries, they're role in the house remained the same. They were both housewives to two children, they're husbands not relevant in the sense of motherhood. "No one shall take my children away from me" (Euripides, 480-406 BC, p. 41) and "I would rather face battle/three times than go through childbirth once" (Euripides, 480-406, p. 29) is Medea's confession while deciding in order to hurt Jason the most, she needs to take away the children they had together.
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While Ruth doesn't go to these extremes, she sacrifices her custody of the children when burning down the family home. "Thanks to the new legislation, he (Bobbo) was required to support his children" (Weldon, 1983, p. 25). This line here shows one difference between the two men and their wives. One knew by hurting the children that she would have her justice, the other knew by putting them with their father, she would get her power back.
While discussing the women's roles in the home, this leads to both similarity and difference. "It's not a matter of male or female, after all it was merely power" (Weldon, 1983, p. 240) is how Ruth sees her situation. She revels in the fact that this was all about power. Medea however knew because of history and the time that it was about men and women. "You were born a woman, and women, though most helpless in doing good deeds, Are of every evil the cleverest of contrivers." (Euripides, 480-406 BC, p. 30) is a clip of what Medea has been told during her life. Being in the modern times where a happy marriage was what people envied but also frowned down upon if not the issue Ruth is faced with.
"The neighbours will be able to tell,' Ruth said. "They'll speak to me even less than they do now. They believe misfortune is catching". (Weldon, 1983, p. 24). Both problems that arise in the women's lives before and after their vengeance reflect perfectly on what was before.
Before and after are both stories core. To understand why the women did what they did is the before, the after is the crime, murder, betrayal they committed to get here. The difference between the endings in the story is how one interprets a happy ending.
Some could see Medea riding off in the sunset isn't justice. Yet they could think Ruth becoming the woman she wanted is justice. "Now I live in The High Tower" (Weldon 1983, p. 128) is a parallel to the beginning of Ruth's story, "Mary Fisher, dweller in The High Tower!" (Weldon, 1983, p. 4). Medea has a similar arc, so understanding this context is vital. Medea had betrayed her home soil in order to help Jason win. "To begin at the beginning, I saved your life” (Euripides, 480-406 BC, p. 53) Medea says this reflecting on all she had lost because of Jason. She then strikes a deal to secure her future just as Ruth did, "I swear by Earth, and by the burning light of the sun [To never expel Medea even after the crimes she commits]" (Euripides, 480-406 BC, p. 40.)
In closing, both narratives portray the same story yet with many differences. One of those being the people who wrote them. Euripides a playwright from Ancient Greek who was a man and lived a short life. Weldon, a woman from England and an author. She is still alive to this day. Euripides wrote this play showcasing the sheer passion and rage a woman can muster up. Weldon writes to 'give a voice to women who are often overlooked or not featured in the media.' These authors are the two mirrors that were discussed in the first half of my work. They have nothing in common other than their desire to show what being a woman can entail.
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A Compare and Contrast Essay Featuring The Life and Loves of a She-Devil and Medea. (2023, Mar 21). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/a-compare-and-contrast-essay-featuring-the-life-and-loves-of-a-she-devil-and-medea/
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