“Do I not suffer? Am I not wronged? Should I not weep? / Children, your mother is hated, and you are cursed:/ Death take you, with your father, and perish his whole house! ” (Euripides 20). Medea’s agony over Jason’s betrayal is clear: her desire for revenge, to sever all ties between herself and her former husband is even clearer. This statement clues the reader that Medea, however cool and collected she may appear in later scenes, is not entirely herself, being dealt a shocking blow in Jason’s marriage to Glauce, princess of Corinth.
This also foreshadows the slaughter of her children, that despite her initial weakness she will, through a savage willpower, kill her two sons in order to cause Jason pain. It is evident as well that she already considers Jason lost to her: she refers to “his house,” rather than the house of Creon. She already recognizes that Jason is a member of Creon’s family with his marriage to Glauce. Medea also refers to her children as “cursed,” a curious choice of phrase; perhaps hinting that had they not died by Medea’s hand, they would have died some equally horrible way.Order now
Medea is accustomed to being stronger than this, she seems surprised at her own womanly weakness: “Should I not weep? ” It is almost as if she is trying to justify her reaction to herself, and foreshadows her mental battle with herself over murdering her sons. “Come, I’ll ask your advice as if you were a friend. Not that I hope for any help from you; but still, I’ll ask you, and expose your infamy… Thus it stands: My friends at home now hate me; and in helping you I have earned the enmity of those I had no right To hurt… A marvelous
Husband I have, and faithful too… ” (Euripides 32). Here Medea shows that she is perhaps more in the right than Jason is, that despite her sacrifices and services and love for him, he has betrayed her- not rendered her a service, as he claims to do. Although fueled by anger, Medea illustrates that she is Jason’s equal, or better. She asks where she is supposed to go to as an exile, seeing how she had betrayed her own family and those she had “no right/ To hurt” for love of Jason. He offers letters of introduction, which she haughtily repudiates.
She mocks him to cover the injury he has dealt her, and ultimately sends him back to his wife, informing him he must be missing her, to go and enjoy her. There is little doubt that any love Medea felt for Jason has been transformed into hatred, hatred such that she will bloody her hands further simply to hurt him, to end his happiness and any future chance of such. “Women, my courage is all gone. Their young, bright faces- I can’t do it… Why should I hurt them, to make Their father suffer, when I shall suffer twice as much Myself?… What is the matter with me? Are my enemies To laugh at me?…
I must steel myself to it. What a coward I am… ” (Euripides 49). This is perhaps the only time Medea shows remorse, other than when referring to her family and friends in her native country. Yet the inevitability of the children’s deaths has been foreshadowed with Medea’s first cries of sorrow, and she decides to kill them for fear of censure from her enemies. This self-consciousness is inconsistent with so confident a character that Medea has portrayed thus far: arguing with Jason, the husband she is supposed to obey in all matters, plotting and enacting plans for death of an entire family.
Despite Medea’s claims for motherly love, it is ultimately not mercy- a mother killing her children so they don’t have to suffer at another’s hands- but potential embarrassment at the hands of her enemies that drives Medea to kill her children, a rather inglorious and unflattering addition to the portrait Euripides paints of Medea. “You, as you deserve, Shall die an unheroic death, your head shattered By a timber from the Argo’s hull. Thus wretchedly Your fate shall end the story of your love for me” (Euripides 60). Here Medea reveals her all-consuming hatred for Jason, such that it drove her to kill her own children, Glauce, and Creon.
She also reminds her hapless ex-husband of her powers as a seer, accurately foretelling his death and giving him additional pain. It is clear that Jason has much pride in his skills as a warrior; to tell him he will die in this common, inglorious way must add additional pain to an unbearable heap. Medea demonstrates through her diction “You, as you deserve,” that she continues to see herself in the right, and Jason in the wrong, and will continue to do so in order to preserve her self-image. Her height over Jason denotes her power over him, still wielded through one unavoidable bond- that of a past love.