In the first part of this crash course, we will discuss the key characters in the play as well as how the plot unfolds.
This is part 1 of our crash course on Medea.
Stay tuned for part 2!
She was the princess of Colchis, but is a powerful enchantress. She left her homeland and was exiled, and gave up everything she had to be with Jason, until he had an affair with Princess Glauce. She is then bitter and vengeful that Jason abandoned her and her children, and swears for revenge.
A hero and leader of a group called the Argonauts, who went searching for the Golden Fleece. He marries Medea, but has an affair with Princess Glauce, abandoning his family for riches. He does not see the wrongness in his actions, and believe’s Medea is in the wrong.
He is the King of Corinth, and father of Princess Glauce. He looks down on Medea, as she was the ex-wife of his daughter’s now husband.
She is known to be the most beautiful woman in the realm. She is married to Jason, and because of this, Medea exacts revenge on her.
The children do not play a major role until the very end, where Medea exacts her revenge. But they symbolise what crimes people can commit if they are wronged.
The Chorus is usually a group of three or more people who narrate the story, jumping in and out of the play to speak to the characters and the audience. They usually set the scene to the audience and give information about where, when, and how events came to be.
- Opens with the chorus setting the scene and explaining who the characters are.
- Begins with the main conflict - Jason has left Medea for Glauce.
- We move on to a scene with King Creon and Medea, who banishes her from the city because he’s scared she’ll take revenge, since she’s known to be an enchantress.
- Jason catches wind of this and accuses her of overreacting, but offers some financial support. But Medea refuses it.
- By chance, a King from Athens, Aegeus, comes by and offers Medea a safe haven in Athens.
- Medea, realizing that she has a place to escape to, plots her revenge, believing that killing her children will hurt Jason more than it’ll hurt her, as the satisfaction of breaking him would be better.
- Her revenge plot begins by her pretending to sympathize with Jason.
- Jason believes her and even says that he’s pleased, because ‘This is how a woman should behave’.
- She offers his new wife gifts of a dress and coronet (a mini crown), but little do they know, they’re poisoned.
- She wears the gifts, and is killed by the poison.
- Her father is so devastated that he embraces her, absorbing the poison and killing himself.
- We see Medea anxious about killing her children, and the Chorus tries to talk her out of it.
- But when they do this, she decides to go through with it, and we hear them scream off stage, as every death in Ancient Greek theatre is done.
- She prepares to flee in her magical chariot, which is basically a flying carriage, which she was gifted by her grandfather, Apollo the Sun god.
- Jason mourns over his children, cursing and screaming at Medea in the sky about how she’s ruined his chances of advancing his station because his new wife and father-in-law are dead.
- Medea laughs and flies away.
Stay tuned for part 2 where we will discuss the historical and social context of the text. We will also explore the themes hidden between the lines.
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