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IN WHAT WAYS DOES EURIPIDES EXPLORE ISSUES OF RACE, GENDER AND CLASS

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Introduction

Tosin Abdullai IN WHAT WAYS DOES EURIPIDES EXPLORE ISSUES OF RACE, GENDER AND CLASS.? * What do you think Euripides' views are on this issue * Would an Athenian audience agree with him? Euripides explores these fields mainly by putting forward the character of Medea. In other words, the treatment of her character in the play mainly by the other members of the society which she finds herself defines the listed issues above - race, gender and class. Euripides presents the theme of race mainly through the character of Medea. On our first acquaintance, Medea particularly points out the fact that she is a "foreign woman coming among new laws". This makes evident where she stands in the society, as foreigners are regarded as inferior to the real Greeks. By this, Euripides presents a form of racism eminent in the life of the ancient Greeks. Also, Medea's race was believed to be barbaric or sub-human which also contributes to the reason why her character is diminished. Jason refers to her roots as a "barbaric homeland' which suggests a feeling of superiority. Another aspect in which Euripides explores the theme of race is through the supremacy of the Greeks, which makes evident the predominance of their race in the ancient times. ...read more.

Middle

She is able to manipulate all the powerful male characters, which are satirically presented as gullible. Creon, a very powerful character, the King of Corinth says "I fear you...yet nonetheless, Medea you shall have what you ask for" even though he is aware of her evil capabilities. Also, Jason, her husband, a very powerful character with a legendary history is also easily exploited and convinced, due to Medea's shrewdness. "I am pleased Medea that you have changed your mind". Thus, Medea is characterised as a rebel in the society. In my opinion I feel that the Greeks would have found this rather annoying, as they were used to seeing women less oppressive, like Medea. Euripides might have therefore been mocking the Greek mentality of women in his society, as he presents his female characters to be more knowledgeable than the men. A contrasting opinion is however made evident in the latter part of the play, as Euripides' view on women is of a different light. In one of Medea's speeches, she says, "we women are the most wretched". This might be interpreted as Euripides' own opinion of women in his society or one of Medea's cynical comments on the situation she finds herself in. ...read more.

Conclusion

Finally, Medea makes evident, a running theme of class in the play. She is obviously of a very high class, as she is the wife of a King. This thereby contributes the power she is entitled to in the society. It is however difficult to pin point exactly where Medea stands, as she is obviously respected in the society, but not shown to be of great importance to some characters, such as Creon due to the fact that she is banished by him. "I have made my mind up, you are my enemy". Her barbaric background also contributes to her high class as she is a Princess. In my opinion, I do not believe that the Greeks would have recognized her class but not necessarily respected her character due to those grounds. I personally don't think this was particularly reflected in the play by Euripides, rather, he concentrated on building her character on more intellectual grounds such as her cleverness. In conclusion, I think Euripides is able to explore these themes in great detail giving us different opinions which maybe sometimes ambiguous, as we are not able to know what he is thinking. This, in my opinion is what makes the play a very well written work of art and I think it also would have appealed to the Greeks. ...read more.

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