In the famous play of Medea, Euripides creates an unconventional female protagonist who is more self-willed than many others in Greek mythology. This character could be represented as Medea, who could be described as a self motivated, self controlled, barbaric mannered woman, who relies more on revenge than her own honor and blood. She tends to reach the utmost barbaric state in order for her enemies to feel enough pain to relieve her disconcerted rage, this is proven to us when the nurse says that “no one who makes an enemy with her, will carry off an easy victory”. We also notice this when Medea speaks her first words of revenge on Jason, and she says “If I could find a way to work revenge on Jason for his wrongs to me”. This essay basically discusses the topic of characterizing Medea by using dialogue, narrative point of view, and the chorus’s perception.
The dialogue in the plays a very important role in terms of characterizing Medeas inner character by what she says to Jason and to the other characters she speaks with. At the beginning of the play we notice how Medea begins to feel self pity for herself and yet is not satisfied with allowing Jason to walk out as the victor. She is determined to revenge herself by taking out those who are most close to him and therefore shreading apart his heart as well as his dreams. At first it begins with quotes of self pity like when she says “Oh oh! What misery, what wretchedness! What shall I do? If only I were dead”. Then the revenge plotting begins to take place when she first mentions about having her vengeance to the chorus, as mentioned in the introductory paragraph, and then in develops into a planning phase where she begins to take advantage of the time Creon provides her before her exile. “Trials are yet to come for this new-wedded pair nor shall those nearest to them get off easily”, this is said by Medea, in page immediately after her confrontation with Creaon.
We notice here how her she tends to a have a somewhat barbaric cunning mind, where she carefully plans her ways of revenge and takes into consideration the consequences that may result of her actions. Another example of Media’s speech in planning for the killing of what she calls her enemies is when she says “I have in my mind so many paths of death for them. I don’t know which to choose. Should I set fire to the house and burn the bridal chamber? Or creep up to their bed and drive a sharp knife through their guts?” This also emphasizes of her barbaric thinking manner and fleshes out her character in that sort of way. We also are able to notice the extreme degree of her barbarity, when she intends to kill her own children just so Jason’s heart could be crashed and she would by then get her full retribution. “What is a matter with me? Are my enemies to laugh at me? Am I to let them off scot free? I must steel myself into it.”
Moving on to the narrative point of view, here we realize that narrative essentially describes the mood and the atmosphere Medea lies in during the play. Even though there is not much said by it, it still stands out as a part that fleshes Medea’s character is a somewhat more undeviating and simple manner than anything else. At first the narrative describes Medea’s state at the beginning and tends to emphasize on her grief. On page 20 this is proven when it is said that “Medea’s voice is heard from inside the house”, here we notice the degree of her sorrow and how she tends to express it in a loud revealing approach. This is could also be related to barbarism, and her self pitiful character. We also notice a certain pattern in the way the narrative speaks about Medea. On page 23 “Medea comes out. She is not shaken with weeping, but cool and self possessed”, where on page 45 “Again Medea breaks down and weeps”. We notice how the pattern of her getting into calm phases and then returning to back to the weeping stage. This also continues further, on page 48 where “Medea is silent” and then after that we are told that “She weeps” on both pages 48 and 49. This could flesh her out as being an emotionally motivated character who is more like controlled by her emotions rather than her mind.
Now we move on to the chorus, who also have one of the of most vital roles in the play. They tend to be the mouthpiece of the author, and through them we are able to realize Medea’s character and are capable of fleshing her out. At the beginning of the play the chorus tend to provide constant descriptions of Medea’s situation. For example on page 21, “I heard that voice, I heard that unhappy woman from Cholcis still crying not calm yet” and this carries in separate parts until we reach page 32, where this situation meets a turning point that brings it from unwanted grief to furious anger, “The fiercest anger of all the most incurable, is that which rages in the place of dearest love”. This also provides us with reference to how Medea’s barbaric characteristic tends to turn anguish and grief into mere revenge and violence. We notice how Mede’s barbarism reaches its optimum point when she decides to kill her sons and this is shown on page 42 where the chorus end up saying “But to kill your own children! Can you steel your heart?” This is where we finally grasp the idea of the degree Medea’s barbaric acts come to the utmost limits where she decides to kill her own blood in return for pain on others.
In conclusion, we could some up Medea’s character to begin cunning yet barbaric, she is also ruled by her emotions and lets them take the best of her and for that reason she is driven by them into fury and rage. We also notice that she is loyal to those who are loyal to her, and this is proven at the beginning of the play when we are introduced to the way she killed a king and escaped from her homeland to live with Jason in harmony. But I do tend to sympathies with her for as she has been conned and cheated upon in one of the most powerful ways, the ways that could drive a sain person out of his wits.