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Who is the most tragic character in Euripdes' story 'Medea'?

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Catherine Spillman 12D WHO IS THE MOST TRAGIC CHARACTER IN EURIPDES' STORY 'MEDEA'? Medea is the story of an estranged woman who wishes to seek revenge on her husband (who has left her for another woman) by poisoning his new wife. This, however, is made more difficult when the King of the land, Creon, tells Medea to leave, mainly because he is scared of her. She appeals to him for one more day to sort things out, and uses persuasion by making him feel pity for her when she says "This one day let me stay, to settle some plans for my exile...since their own father is not concerned to help them. Show some pity: you are a father too...their fate is very hard". Medea tells the Chorus, a group of women from Corinth that this one day is all she needs to get her revenge. Jason visits Medea and offers to give her money for her and her sons but she proudly refuses it. He leaves, feeling smug that he has what he wants. Aegeus, king of Athens and old friend of Medea's, enters. Aegeus is childless. Medea tells him of her problems, and asks for shelter in Athens. She offers to help him to have a child as she has detailed knowledge of drugs and medicines. Aegeus eagerly agrees. If Medea can reach Athens, he will protect her. Medea makes the old king vow by all the gods, which in Ancient Greece meant a promise that would never ever be broken.

Middle

If women didn't exist, Human life would be rid of all its miseries." We can tell from passages like the above two that the play was written by a male because he would have put his own points of view into his story. The King of Corinths also experiences tragedy in the story. Firstly, he is scared of a woman in his land, and must persuade her to leave, this surely would be embarrassing for a man to be scared of a woman, unless she is a goddess, and in this case she is not. Secondly, he must see his daughter, who has been poisoned, and is apparently severely damaged physically on a deathbed. This must be one of the most tragic moments in the play, as we have not heard that the princess had any reason to be killed, other than the fact that she had married Jason, Medea's husband. Secondly, Creon himself suffers an extremely painful death. The messenger tells us in detail about how the princess died, and such lines as "The fine dress...the stuff was eating her clear flesh...down from her head dripped blood mingled with flame; her flesh attacked by the invisible fangs of poison" give us a clear view of the horrific pain that both the princess, and her father had to endure, because of one woman's revenge. Jason, himself also had to bear a lot of tragedy throughout the story.

Conclusion

Thirdly, Medea is a woman and therefore is, in the Greek's eyes an inferior in the run of things. Women were seen as useless beings whose only purpose it seemed was to give birth to the men's children. However Medea is a powerful woman and has knowledge of witchcraft, praying to the goddess Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft, which would not be known by a mere amateur witch! She tells us that she is not like the other women "Let no one think of me As humble or weak or passive; let them understand I am of a different kind: dangerous to my enemies, Loyal to my friends." Finally, Medea, at the end of the play has killed her own sons, something that is not only tragic, but somewhat disturbing. In modern times she may be perceived to be unstable, but perhaps all this tragedy in her life has caused her to act in such a way. She is left completely alone by the end of the play; no husband, no family, no children, and her friends probably do not wish to speak to her. For this reason I believe Medea to be the most tragic character. She will be alone for the rest of her life because of her own actions. Throughout time it has been said that human emotions are such that they can lead us to commit atrocities. This is certainly true to Medea's case. Through her actions dire consequences have come about for her and those around her.

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