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Feminism in Antigone and Medea

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Introduction

Feminism in Antigone and Medea Feminism has always been an intense and debated subject. Many renowned authors have written works in favour of it. Two of them were Euripides and Anouilh, who depicted two strong women, Antigone and Medea. In spite of living in fifth century Greece where women had little or no rights at all, they defied men in power. By doing this they proved women's equality to men. In this respect they were both feminists. Both plays show feministic traits and at the same time show anti-feministic ones. In this essay I will investigate these traits. The main theme in Medea is feminism. Through the character of Medea, Euripides promotes his ideas on feminism to the traditional Greek society. Medea is a strong willed woman. She will do anything to get her will and no man can stop her. When she still loved Jason she went as far as killing her own kin for him. When Jason later wants to get rid of her and Creon wants to expel her from the country, she does not let them treat her as a helpless puppy and defeat her. To avenge herself on Jason for betraying her after all she has done for him, and Creon for giving his daughter's hand in marriage to Jason and wanting to expel Medea, she kills not only Creon and his daughter but also her own two sons, just to make Jason suffer even more. ...read more.

Middle

Western cultural tradition has helped assure male rule by constantly associating men with reason, objectivity, logic and the like, while women are linked to the body, matter, evil, emotions, an absence of logic and reason and the like. Medea's behaviour is based on emotions, which is one of the characteristics chauvinists associate women with. Her actions are the result of her strong emotions. She is a passionate person who follows her heart no matter the consequences. When she betrays her father and kills her brother she is blinded by her love for Jason. Later when she is full of fury and rage as a result of Jason's disloyalty she thinks of nothing but revenge. In her outrage she kills among others, two innocent children. She shows traces of evil in her lack of sympathy for others and her selfishness. She is not rational. She does not reflect wisely on her actions and acts impulsively. Having these qualities she does not make a good feministic role model. Anouilh did not write Antigone for feministic purposes as Euripides did. Still it is appreciated by many as a contribution to feminism. This is due to Antigone's strong character. Feminism was a more familiar concept in Anouilh's time i.e. the twentieth century. ...read more.

Conclusion

But, there are also some of Antigone's actions that a feminist would not approve of. For example, that she respects her brothers because they are men. When Creon says: "And later on, when they came home, wearing evening clothes, smoking cigarettes, they would have nothing to do with you; and you thought they were wonderful." Antigone replies: "They were boys and I was a girl." Antigone knows that her brothers were corrupt, but nevertheless she was in awe of them. Antigone tells Ismene that she has spent her entire life cursing the fact that she was a girl. A feminist would say that she should be proud of being a woman. While both women are strong and brave feminists, they are quite different. Antigone is more good-natured, intelligent, rational and humane. She does not hurt anyone but herself willingly, and rebels against Creon for a good cause (her brothers and her own honour) she is therefore a heroine. Medea on the other hand is driven by emotion, she is barbaric, brutal, merciless and cold-hearted, and she is irrational and does not think of the consequences of her acts. Medea murders four innocent people just to get revenge for personal reasons, and is therefore a villain. Therefore Antigone makes a better feministic play than Medea, even though Medea was written for feministic reasons and Antigone by Jean Anouilh was written for political reasons and not feministic ones. ...read more.

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