• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"Men must fight and women must weep" Essay on Gender Roles.

Extracts from this document...


MEDEA "Men must fight and women must weep" Essay on Gender Roles Gender roles are those characteristics, actions or behaviours, for which acceptance and approval within a particular community, and at a specified time, is determined on a gender-specific basis. A very traditional idea of these roles is that men are overt, the protectors, the providers and aggressive: "men must fight..." and women are covert, the victims, passive and emotional "...women must weep". Traditional gender roles are found in many texts. In the play Medea by Euripides, the main character, Medea, both challenges and endorses traditional gender roles through her actions, her words and her reactions. Medea betrays her father, the king, by helping Jason, who is a foreigner and therefore disliked. The king made plans to kill Jason but Medea, knowing of these plans, intervenes and helps him escape. This action challenges traditional concepts of the female gender role, as women, in the patriarchal society of ancient Greece, were supposed to have deep respect for their fathers who provided for them and kept them safe from harm. By betraying her father she is going against her traditional role as a daughter which was to be obedient, passive and grateful. Despite this betrayal she still shows some female essence: "She sat alone in her room, weeping and telling herself she was shamed forever because she cared so much for a stranger that she wanted to yield to a mad passion and go against her father." ...read more.


Medea is therefore seen to challenge traditional gender roles, through her newfound independence. Medea's independence does not last long and even though she saved Jason's life, Medea is the one who very soon becomes dependent on him, this time making her like a victim or, "a refugee, buying safety"(pg1) thus endorsing the illustrated female role once more. Medea is later again made to appear the victim through Jason telling her he will provide for her and look after her, making her seem helpless and needy: (Jason:)"I won't see you penniless; I won't see the children starve...If you or the children need anything, cash for the journey, ask. I'll be generous- letters to people who'll take you in." Medea replies: "I need no friends of yours to take me in. I'll take none of your favours...I spit on them." Her response, to Jason's offer of help, 'loosens' the typical characteristic of victim bestowed upon her as she conveys a sense of new independence once more, this time from Jason. Medea might need that help from Jason but she strongly communicates that she definitely doesn't want it showing strength in her character which therefore challenges conventional feminine roles. For Medea, even less feminine, and certainly more unacceptable than killing her own brother was killing her own children. ...read more.


Medea is now challenging her role as a typical emotional woman and exhibits the male quality of being able to contain emotions and appear emotionally detached. Medea's feelings of jealousy were so strong that she wanted to take revenge. Women seeking revenge is quite normal, where gender roles were concerned especially in ancient Greek Mythology where many stories recount the tales of jealous wives wanting revenge on their husband and/or his lover. Hera, the Queen of the Gods, provides a good example of this, when she causes a young woman named Semele, whom Zeus was in love with, to die through Hera's trickery, which is another traditional trait performed by women. Medea's revenge on Jason through his wife Glauke, was very similar to Hera's method of deception. Taking revenge on Jason, she gives Glauke a silken robe and golden crown, as a gift, but it is laced with poison and Glauke soon dies. (Medea to Jason:) "You thought you'd kick me from your bed and laugh at me unpunished. Wrong!"(pg46) Covertly, using deceit, Medea endorses typical gender roles through her revenge on Jason. The "fighter" and the "weeper", the aggressive and the passive, the independent and the dependent: Medea, in Euripides's play Medea is an example of both traditional male and female gender roles accepted in the ancient Greek society. This is shown, just as all gender roles are shown, through her actions or behaviours as well as in her words and reactions. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Changes in Family Roles

    One person said "the role that the extended family plays depends entirely on the individual family" also someone else had said "the extended family still plays the same role depending on where in the world you are, and the culture of your country."

  2. Deforestation of the Amazon Rainfores- Humanities Essay

    effects on the people living in the U.K and everywhere else in the world (GLOBAL Warming). Environmental pressure groups such as green peace are campaigning to protect the environment by making the MNC's take corporate responsibility. Corporate responsibility is a concept where organisations consider the interests of society by taking

  1. How Is The Harshness Of Community Life In Starkfield Conveyed By Edith Wharton?

    Wharton also uses gothic elements to illustrate Ethan's house. We realise that a majority is based on death and decay. "A dead cucumber vine dangled from the porch like the crape streamer tied to the door for a death." From the above, we find that the cucumber-vine was as hanging

  2. "Compare the presentation of the exploitation of women in "Memoirs of a Geisha" by ...

    She also was taken away from her loved surroundings and abandoned in a boarding school without any contact from her family for several years. This lack of control over both of the girl's lives and future is very gripping because they are at the mercy of their owners.

  1. My first fight.

    There was that split-second when some of the children looked at me like I was an outsider, an alien. Voices were whispering from each corner of the room "who is he?" I felt isolated, remote, and would never have contemplated that after two days their thoughts would be on the contrary.


    This tradition casts the male as the sole protector of the female so he must have total control of her. If this protection is violated, he loses honour because either he failed to protect her or he failed to bring her up correctly.

  1. The differences and relationships between gender roles

    whether it 'looks right' to other boys, whether it can 'perform satisfactorily' in intercourse" (Fausto-Sterling, p. 58). Even Carl Linnaeus, a botanist of the eighteenth century, classified plants by their reproductive organs, but "his system did not capture fundamental sexual functions.

  2. What Impact did the War Have on the Role of Women in British Society ...

    working class and most middle class women would have to feed, clothe and care for their families themselves as well as cleaning and maintaining the house. For this reason the working class women would have had a much tougher life having to work and look after families and houses whereas

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work