Euripides’ Medea is classified an ancient Greek tragedy. However, this story is much more than a tragedy. The story of Medea is one that definitely grabs the reader’s attention through both its text and its themes. The themes that the story of Medea presents are very practical and still continue to exist in humanity today. The three largest and most obvious themes that a reader is most likely to find and relate to while reading Medea are revenge, manipulation and passion.
These three themes are not only apparent in the story of Medea; they are obvious in our video version, entitled The Medean Hillbillies, as well.Revenge is a common theme that occurs in a number of scenes throughout Medea (“Themes of Medea”). Jason, the husband of Medea, has decided to leave his wife for another woman that will place him in a higher social status. Medea immediately becomes angry as she feels that she has given up everything in order for him to gain power (Smith).
Medea does not believe he has adequate reasons for leaving her. She also does not like the fact that Jason continues to make lame excuses while trying to defend himself. Medea quickly develops a strong urge for revenge against Jason and his new wife.The remainder of the story is centered on this theme and Medea’s plan for revenge (Smith). Medea’s ultimate plan for revenge is to poison and kill the Princess, Jason’s new wife.
She completes this goal by poisoning a gold dress and then presenting it as a gift to the Princess. When the Princess puts on the dress, the poison immediately results in her death. Medea is also able to kill the father of the Princess, which assists her in a successful act of revenge. Medea does not stop with the death of the Princess and the King.
As the story continues, Medea’s sense of revenge bubbles up insider her. She continues her plot of revenge towards Jason, as a result of her hatred towards him and his actions. In the end, Medea makes the decision to kill her own, two children.
This again is an act of revenge towards Jason for leaving her alone, and for accusing her of overreacting. Our video reflects this theme revenge through multiple scenes. Medea develops a sense of revenge to Jason after he runs away and gets married to the Princess.
She takes out her revenge through a scheme that will kill the Princess through poison.In our video, Medea achieves her goal through tainting a necklace with peanut oil because the Princess is allergic to peanuts. When the necklace is placed upon the Princess’s neck she immediately is poisoned and dies. Medea’s revenge is also obvious in the scene with her talking to King Creon. She shows a strong desire to not be bothered by anyone and expresses the fact that she does not want to leave her home in the trailer park. At the conclusion of their conversation, Medea threatens to kill the King. This is ironic because in the end, she does end up killing the King.
Overall, the audience is able to understand Medea’s revenge in this particular scene as a result of her attitude and tone. The second theme made evident in Medea is manipulation (Borey). The protagonist, Medea, is very good at manipulating other characters in order to benefit herself. Medea is able to manipulate her two children, which is very important in Medea’s plan for revenge (Mastin). Without her manipulation, she would have not been able to kill her children so easily. Throughout their lives, the children have seen their mother as a caring and loving person.
They are oblivious to the fact that in reality their mother was simply manipulating them and persuading their thoughts, viewpoints, and personalities (Mastin). Medea manipulates her children in a way that reflects nicely upon her behalf and in a way that expresses a sense of hatred towards Jason, their father. King Creon is a character who is also manipulated by Medea (Borey). Medea appeals to Creon’s pity, and illustrates that she is the “master of manipulation” (Borey).
In the end, Medea uses her manipulation to kill King Creon just as she did with her children.Medea manipulates the Princess in giving her “a precious gift” which readers quickly find out is actually a gift of poison and would kill the Princess. Not only does Medea manipulate the Princess, King Creon, and her two children but she also manipulates King Aegeus. Medea takes advantage of Aegeus’ “soft-heartedness” personality to gain an advantage and support from him (Borey). In the end, Aegeus sides with Medea and the two leave the city together. Manipulation is very visible in our hillbilly version of Medea.
Medea manipulates her children by tricking them into going fishing with her.The children are looking forward to an enjoyable fishing trip with their beloved mother, away from their father. Medea manipulates them at the beginning of the fishing trip as they discuss the nice weather, and express their feelings of despair towards Jason. The children are very unaware that Medea will soon be throwing them overboard to drown. Medea also illustrates her manipulation through the Messenger as she sends what she refers to as a “precious gift” to the Princess.
This precious gift is actually a death sentence as it is a poisoned necklace. When the Messenger arrives and gives the necklace to the Princess she is overjoyed.However, the Princess immediately dies as the Messenger places it upon her neck. Again, Medea successfully uses manipulation to complete an act of murder. The final scene in our video is of Medea and King Agieus leaving the city in the Princess’s ride. This is also an act of manipulation. Medea has somehow manipulated the King to side with her in her plot of revenge. Although the scene is brief, the audience is able to depict that Medea and the King have become friends “behind the scenes”, most likely as a result of Medea’s manipulation.
The final theme that is apparent in the story of Medea is the sense of passion (Mastin).The strong passion that is felt by Medea at the beginning of the story ultimately results in rage which is carried out throughout the remainder of the plot. Medea’s passion towards Jason is what results in her actions of revenge; her acts of murder. She is passionate towards Jason and does not understand why he is not passionate about her and the children (Mastin). As the story progresses, the passion felt by Medea towards Jason transforms to hate (“Themes of Medea”).
Medea’s hate, as a result of her passion, can be contributed as the major reason why she murders Jason’s new wife.It is evident that Medea wants to earn both Jason and his passion towards her back. Her strong desire to be recognized by Jason is the result of her passion towards him and their family. Medea’s plan for revenge calls for these acts of murder because she knows that these are actions that will quickly earn Jason’s attention, recognition, and response (Smith). Jason’s passion in Medea is directed towards his two children and the Princess (“Themes of Medea”). This passion becomes clear when he leaves Medea and runs away with the Princess.
The two become married, and Jason is very upset at the news of her death especially since it is the result of Medea’s hatred toward the newlyweds. Jason’s passion for his two children is illustrated by one of his reasons for wanting to marry the Princess. In marrying the Princess, Jason will be able to improve the lives of his children and be able to provide them with more. This passion towards the children is also shown following their death, as he is very saddened to hear the news and desires for Medea to hand their bodies over to him. The third theme that we emphasized in our video version of Medea is passion.The first scene where passion appears is illustrated when the Nurse runs away after hearing from the children’s tutor about Jason’s betrayal towards Medea.
Although this was not a major character illustrating passion in the text, the Nurse’s diction and emotions in the video can be attributed to a sense of passion that she has developed towards Medea and her family. Jason shows his passion towards the Princess in multiple scenes. First, we have the scene of their wedding. We also can see his passion for her in the brief scene of the two entering the house as well as when they are riding away together after the wedding.
The passion that Jason has towards his children is best exemplified when he goes to Medea’s house to pay child support. Even though Jason is no longer a parental figure in the children’s lives, he expresses passion towards them as he wants them to have things that they need. The particular example illustrated in the video was shoes. Within this scene, Jason attempts to show his passion towards the children, despite his monetary challenges, but Medea will not allow him to interfere with her or their lives.She furiously takes his money, yells at him to leave and to not bother them, and finally pushes him away.
As you can see, both the original story and our own hillbilly version of Medea both emphasize three major themes: revenge, manipulation, and passion. Both a reader of Euriphedes’ version of Medea and a audience member taking in our group’s hillbilly version of Medea would gain not only an overall understanding of the Greek tragedy, but also be able to recognize and understand these three major themes and the ways in which they are depicted in each version.