In Euripides’ play “Medea” the main character is a powerful, but controversial woman – Medea herself. Reading the story some people might be confused with the actions that the protagonist decides to take. She is violent, vindictive, bloody and seemingly crazy. By looking at actions alone, Medea would certainly be considered evil. However, the author creates a character decidedly more complex. We can see it through the background story of the character and development of the play’s plot.
That is why I think the full presentation of the character in the work makes people react more sympathetically towards the character. As the Nurse at the beginning of the story tells, Medea gave up everything she had to be with Jason. She left her family, and even killed her own brother to be able to run away with him. Medea, who has been dishonestly betrayed by her husband, uses revenge to punish him for his deeds and to seek the rewards which it offers to ones pride.
The reader begins to feel pity for the main character and even excuse her actions. That is a result of identification with Medea, as a cheated spouse. In any kind of relationship during life, people expect fidelity, so they clearly understand why she wanted revenge. Medea’s other main reason why she took such a bloody revenge on Jason, was the fact that, she was under a spell, that Athena cast on her. Thus her actions are not completely under her control. The love spell is so strong, that the protagonist decided to kill even her own kids.
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She wanted him to feel the mutual pain, she went through after the betrayal. At the end the story Jason stays without descendants or wife, and on a foreign land, what makes him unable to improve his social status. At this point of the story the reader understand, that Medea is not completely mentally healthy, so they don’t judge her as harshly, as an absolutely conscious person. At the end I would like to mention about the other reason, why Medea decided to kill her children. Her main purpose was to look out for what was “best for her kids”.
She thought it would be better to kill her children then to leave them for her enemies that they would soon have to face, after her exile. Medea suspected that they might get killed out of revenge for what she did to the princess and the king. The reader starts to sympathize her, because of the tough decision she had to confront as a loving and carrying mother. For some people Medea might be seen as a cruel and evil character. However, I certainly can state that the reader tend to sympathize her more, by looking at the whole character, instead of only judging her by the actions.
The character was under a very powerful love spell and moreover, she had been betrayed by her beloved what might led her to put those drastic plans into actions. Furthermore, Medea was trying to do the best she could for the children, despite of the tragic ending that was either way about to happen. All those circumstances definitely led her to an emotional instability and also to choose the bloody path of revenge. Probably she would have never done all this without provocation.
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