Betrayal and Revenge in Medea

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Betrayal and Revenge

        In his quest for the Golden Fleece, Jason elicits Medea, a women known for her supernatural powers. Shortly after, they marry. Yet, after all Medea does for Jason—including killing her own brother—he decides to leave her and marry the Corinthian Princess to increase his own wealth and status. Thus, to avenge her husband for his betrayal, Medea kills the princess and the children she herself had with Jason, thus ensuring his complete downfall. Upon hearing of the sacrifice of the children and the murder of his bride-to-be, Jason expresses the extent of his devastation and hatred towards Medea. In this passage from Euripides’s Medea, Euripides reveals both Medea’s cruelty and ruthlessness and the effect of her revenge on Jason—his complete destruction. In addition, Jason’s reference to Medea’s earlier transgressions reveals that he doesn’t fully grasp what Medea gave up for him. Although Medea’s actions will never be justified, Jason’s reaction throughout the play, and specifically in this passage, allows the reader to feel some small measure of sympathy towards Medea.

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        Throughout the play, Jason characterizes Medea as cruel and merciless. This is ironic because these are the same traits that made life and success possible for Jason when he first met Medea. Yet, throughout the passage, Jason characterizes Medea as less than human. For example, he refers to her as a “hateful thing” and “an evil thing”(43). He even goes as far to call her “a monster not a woman, having the nature wilder than that of the Scylla in the Tuscan sea”(43). By referring to Medea as the Scylla—a vicious monster in the Odyssey –Jason reveals the extent to ...

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