Retribution is a punishment that is put onto another when they have done a criminal act. In the play Medea, we see her wanting to seek revenge on Jason, who is her ex-husband. The reason for the revenge is that he left her for a different woman; this woman is the daughter of the king. Redemption is when someone is being saved from their sins or from evil. In the play Everyman, we see a figure who represents humanity go on a journey towards the afterlife. He wants to find someone to accompany him on this journey but as he goes onward. Those who he thought would stay with him go away from his side and, he loses all material possessions. Only his good deeds go along with him and it is shown that he is judged upon his actions. In this essay, I will be comparing and contrasting Medea’s crimes and retribution to Everyman’s journey and redemption, as well as discussing any similarities between the characters fears that they have at the beginning of the play, the dilemmas that they may face, if they should be held accountable for their actions, the difference in their final lines, and how the messages delivered to the audience differ.
In the play Medea, she commits crimes that are all about hurting Jason. The crimes that Medea commits are killing her children, poisoning a robe that was given to the king’s daughter that ends up killing her, and unintentionally killing the king because he goes to help his daughter but gets stuck to the robe that is poisoned. In Everyman, God tells Death to tell Everyman that he is going to be judged by God himself and to start the journey to the afterlife. Everyman is hoping to not make the journey alone and asks for the company of fellowship, kindred, and cousin. All of them turning him down and not going with him on the journey. Good Deeds, knowledge, and all his earthly possessions leave him on his journey to the afterlife. Knowledge is called upon and tells Everyman that he needs to confess his sins and find redemption. Comparing Medea and Everyman, I think that both the characters don’t like being alone. Everyman wants someone to accompany him on his journey and Medea is distraught and heartbroken over Jason leaving her for another woman. Both Medea and Everyman also have someone there to help them. Knowledge and Good deeds help Everyman on his journey and give him advice. With Medea, Aegeus helps her by giving her a place to stay because she was exiled. Contrasting the two, Medea does end up getting retribution on Jason by killing the royal family and her children, which she knew would hurt him. I don’t think Everyman was able to get redemption. I know that on his travels, he realized he is judged upon his actions and his good deeds go with him, but it was never said whether he was saved from his sins. Everyman doesn’t kill anyone while Medea kills four people at the end of the play.
At the beginning of Medea, I don’t think that the main character has any fears about her plans to take vengeance upon Jason. I think she has second thoughts as if to think if she can do something like commit murder, but I don’t think is considered a big fear of hers. However, the nurse that is with Medea is afraid. The nurse starts off the play talking about how Medea is acting and what she is observing from this behavior Medea is exhibiting. She claims throughout her speech that, “ I’m afraid she might be plotting something” (43) and “ I know her. I’m petrified to think what thoughts she might be having now” (45-46). I think that the nurse knows how Medea is and she knows that she is capable of doing something that can potentially hurt others. In Everyman, God starts the conversation with death talking about how he sees mankind living without dread and that they aren’t thinking of heaven or hell. I think that when death goes up to Everyman and tells him God’s message, Everyman starts to feel fear that he must start this pilgrimage. Everyman offers death, “ Yet of my good will I give thee, if thou will be kind/ Yea, a thousand-pound shalt thou have-/ And defer this matter till another day” (120-123). When Everyman tries to bargain with Death and asks him to wait another day, I think this means that he doesn’t want to do it and that he is lazy, but also that he fears to take the journey. This may also mean that he fears death itself. By bargaining and telling him to do it another day, it is not facing what he fears. He also must fear to be alone because while talking with Death, he asks if someone can accompany him as he goes. I don’t think Medea and Everyman have the same fears because Medea doesn’t seem to fear the thought of murder while Everyman fears the journey he must go on.
Between Medea and Everyman, I think both have dilemmas in their plays. Medea has a dilemma where she has second thoughts on if she can go through with killing the king’s daughter as well as her own children. In Everyman, the first dilemma he has is whether he should go with death. He tries to get out of it by bribing him but when that doesn’t work, he thinks about the decision he should make. “ Whither shall I flee/ That I might ‘scape this endless sorrow” (171-172). With this quote, I think that he is deciding whether he should go with Death, however, he doesn’t seem to have a choice. I also think that in Everyman, all his moral possessions have dilemmas because they had to make the choice on whether to go with Everyman on his journey or to not go with him. Everyman and Medea should be held accountable for their actions because it’s the actions that put them in those situations. With Everyman, his actions are what calls him on his journey. God mentions humanity that “They use the seven deadly sins” (36) and Everyman liveth so after his own pleasure” (40). Medea should also be held accountable for her actions because the reason she was exiled was that Creon was unsure of her mind and has heard reports of her making threats. When making threats, I think it is fair that she is exiled because he is just protecting his family against her. Also, it was true what she was planning on doing so I agree with the king when he sent her away.
At the end of Medea, the chorus takes the final words. They say that all the Gods work in mysterious ways and they may be surprising, which the chorus mentions are how this play ends. At the end of Everyman, the doctor takes the final words saying that at the end of life, the only things that you will have beyond the grave will be your good deeds.
In this essay, I compared and contrasted Medea’s crimes and retribution to Everyman’s journey and redemption. I think that Medea does get her retribution by completing the act of murder to her children, the daughter of the king, and the king himself. It is unclear if Everyman was able to get redemption for his sins but we do know that he was able to go beyond the grave with his good deeds. Medea doesn’t seem to have any fears throughout the play but the nurse does fear for Medea as she is mourning the loss of her husband and the fear of what Medea may do. I think that Everyman fears to be alone because he wants someone to accompany him on his journey and that he is afraid of the beyond because he tries to put it off and bribe Death. He may also fear death itself. Medea and Everyman both show hardships that someone can go through from facing death to facing heartbreak.