Questionï An exploration of the beliefs of the Nurse and Chorus in the portrayal of Medea.
Throughout the play Medea is evoked as a person with many different character traits. The Chorus and the Nurse portray their view points of Medea in many different was. As the Nurse knows Medea, she is aware of what she is capable of doing. While the Chorus helps to balance both sides and viewpoints of Medea and Jason.
To begin with, the Nurse portrays Medea as happy even though she is a traitor for example:
“Her heart smitten with love” (l.7)
The word “smitten” means that Medea was love-struck and obsessed with Jason. This suggests that the Nurse is shocked that Medea could be so content and jovial after betraying her family. We believe Medea wanted to leave her family.
Secondly, the Chorus feel Medea is full of pride for example:
“Take on your role of murderer-
And not weep?” (l.l. 832-833)
This phrase means that Medea is so arrogant that she can kill her own sons. This implies the Chorus was shocked that she could do this to her own flesh and blood. We feel her pride eventually causes all of her suffering.
In addition, the Nurse is worried of Medea’s unpredictable behavior for example:
“Don’t let them near Medea in her present mood.” (l.82)
The phrase “near Medea” signifies that Medea could do dangerous things in the frame of mind she is in. This suggests the Nurse knows her character and takes precautions for the children. We believe the Nurse was trying to protect the children from getting hurt.
Similarly, the Chorus also feels that Medea is capricious for example:
“No more hope! They are already walking to their death.” (l.946)
The phrase “No more hope!” means that there is nothing that can be done to save the children. This implies that even though the Chorus might have expected that Medea would now not kill her children they start to see that it is inevitable. We believe they have finally seen both the boy’s and the princess’ deaths are expected.
Further, the Nurse feels Medea is in a state of distress for example:
“She does not eat. She gives herself to grief” (l.23)
The word “grief” means that Medea is going through a lot of heartache. This suggests the Nurse felt Medea was not eating because she was in pain. We feel sympathy towards Medea.
Furthermore, the Chorus feels that Medea is very unforgiving for example:
“If your husband adores his new love,
Let that be: do not vex yourself.” (l.l. 144-145)
The phrase “let that be” is shocking because the Chorus feels it is okay for Jason to cheat on Medea. This brings out the two different viewpoints between Medea and the Chorus, as the fact that Jason leaving Medea aggravates her, the chorus expects her to let go of him and forget about him. We understand Medea’s beliefs better.
Moreover, the Chorus can tell that Medea is annoyed and frustrated for example:
“Anger is fearful and hard to heal,
When those who once were lovers start to fight.” (l.l. 499-500)
The phrase “hard to heal” means that it is difficult to forgive one another. This suggests the Chorus feel sympathy towards Medea and they understand why she is aggravated. We feel Jason should not have left Medea after all she had done for him.
In addition, the Chorus find Medea very daring for example:
“She will put on the robe and golden crown,
Dressed as the bride of death.” (l.l. 952-953)
This phrase talks about the way in which Medea hopes to kill Creon’s daughter the Princess. This suggests that the Chorus finds Medea very courage’s to take on people with such high power. We feel this point highlights how the Chorus and Medea have different beliefs.
Further, the Chorus support Medea’s beliefs for example:
“He’ll be no friend of ours” (l.639)
This phrase implies that the Chorus support Medea’s views and understand how bad her suffering is. This suggests that the women have finally spoken up louder than men. We believe Medea can be very convincing.
Furthermore, the Nurse sees Medea as a woman who will not relinquish for example:
“She’ll not give up her anger till she has struck-
Let’s hope it is her enemies, not these dear ones!”
This phrase means she will keep fighting to hurt Jason and will stop at nothing to see him hurt just like she is. This suggests that she will not surrender even if it means that she has to hurt her children. We find it difficult to believe that she could injure her own sons.
Similarly, the Chorus find Medea heartless for example:
“Miserable woman, you must be made
Of stone or iron, to kill” (l.l. 1257-1258)
This phrase suggests that the women have now turned away from Medea as soon as they realised she was actually going to kill her children. This implies that they can no longer take the side of a murder and are trying to protect their name. We feel they should have warned her early and convinced her to change her mind about killing her children earlier on.
To conclude Medea is a very difficult character to relate to, as none of the events she carried out nowadays would be acceptable. The Nurse only feels sympathy towards Medea because she has raised Medea and does not want to see her get hurt as well as the fact that she knows Medea’s behaviour and mood swings. Unlike the Chorus, that feel sympathy towards Medea but cannot comprehend the fact that she could kill her own flesh.