Alienation in the Medea

Table of Content

Alienation and awareness

In Corinth, the location of The Medea, an ancient society, anything deemed unusual is seen as a risk and women as well as foreigners are not given many rights. This was a widespread characteristic of Athenian societies at the time the play was released. Medea belongs to both groups that were mistreated in Athenian society, and her intellect is considered a threat by those in authority in Corinth. As a result, they quickly attempt to banish her following Jason’s betrothal to the princess of Corinth.

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Medea is devoid of any support when Jason disrespects their marriage vows, leading her to seek revenge. This primitive and brutal human instinct is showcased in the play, demonstrating the detrimental effects of isolation and betrayal. Medea’s refusal to adhere to societal norms not only causes her to be alienated but also fuels her anger, making others perceive her as a threat.

Ultimately, Medea’s knowledge of her inadvertently menacing demeanor forces her to carry out the killings because she understands that seeking retribution is the sole means to achieve her desires. In the initial stages of the play, Medea is cautioned by the nurse about the untamed and resentful nature of her haughty thoughts, which would not only harm society but also herself (lines 103-104). Nevertheless, Medea does not require a reminder about her intimidating disposition. She acknowledges that this is precisely why others perceive her as a threat and why they distance themselves from her.

In her speech to the women of Corinth, Medea expresses her emotional state and vulnerability due to the isolation imposed on her by Corinthian society. She highlights her feelings of being deserted and marginalized by her husband, which fuels her plan for vengeance. Medea acknowledges her threatening nature and the immense anger she holds, stating that when a woman is wronged, no one else can harbor as many thoughts of blood as she does.

Medea recognizes the rarity of a woman pursuing justice for her husband’s wrongdoings and acknowledges the difficulty this presents. Despite societal norms, she refuses to conform and feels her pride has been severely damaged. As a result, she is resolute in reclaiming it by expressing her authentic emotions. Medea finds empowerment through her anger and desire for revenge. In today’s society, these qualities are commonly associated with a cunning, intelligent, and proactive woman; however, during Medea’s era, they were viewed as hazardous.

According to line 285, Creon, the king of Corinth, found Medea to be a frightening woman and described her as clever and skilled in evil arts. It is possible that Creon perceived Medea’s unconventional nature as the “evil arts” he mentioned. In Athenian society, intelligent women who spoke up about their concerns were uncommon and often disregarded. Additionally, Creon may have considered Medea’s foreign background in conjunction with these traits to be indicative of witchcraft or sorcery. Since supernatural powers were the only forces stronger than the authority of a king, Creon was afraid of Medea (line 282).

By characterizing Medea as an intelligent and cunning individual, Creon only amplifies her sense of isolation and fuels her desire for revenge. Moreover, by affirming his fear of Medea, Creon ultimately condemns himself to face her wrath. Insultingly labeling her as “an enemy of his,” Creon issues a decree to banish Medea and her children (line 323). However, being as cunning as she is, Medea recalls Creon’s fondness for children and implores him to grant her an additional day to make preparations for their departure.

Reluctantly, Creon agrees as Medea’s thirst for bloodlust grows stronger. She recognizes her own intimidating and clever nature and uses her isolation to further her quest for revenge. As the novel reaches its climax, Jason enters to remind Medea of the reasons for her exile. Ironically, he acknowledges that her ability to express her opinions, intelligence, and cleverness are the very qualities that enable her to carry out her murders.

Jason informs Medea that she will face exile for her unrestrained speech and explains that he attempted to appease the king’s fury. Despite this, Medea refuses to renounce her foolishness, ultimately leading to her punishment of banishment (lines 455-458). Initially, Medea experiences sadness due to Jason’s verbal abuse and his efforts to suppress her freedom of expression. However, as Jason continues his tirade, she realizes that his actions stem from a place of weakness and uncertainty, as he fears her potential actions. Consequently, Medea concludes that the best course of action is to allow Jason to suffer the consequences of his own words.

Medea once again draws strength from her isolation, using it to persuade Jason into allowing her to send some presents to his new wife. These presents are infused with deadly poison, unbeknownst to Jason. Medea is aware that Jason will be flattered by her selfless act of giving one of her cherished possessions to his new wife. She believes that he will acknowledge that her mind has shifted towards rational thinking, showcasing her cleverness as a woman. By doing so, the children can present the gifts as a wedding offering prior to Medea’s banishment (lines 911-913). Moreover, she recognizes that if Jason perceives her as submissive, he will be less threatened by her presence.

Medea’s mind may have turned to better reasoning, but not in the way Jason believes. Medea is employing better reasoning by intentionally allowing Jason to remain oblivious to the consequences of accepting her gifts. This only serves to make her crimes even more atrocious. Medea envisions a more sinister and gratifying revenge by making Jason unknowingly play a crucial role in his own downfall. She embodies the destructive nature of a woman scorned. Her anguish, initially sparked by Jason’s betrayal of their marriage vows, is intensified by her intellect, determination, and cunning – qualities that are perceived as dangerous throughout the entire play.

Medea was compelled to commit murder due to the absence of her husband’s love and societal acceptance. If she had someone to rely on, the outcome of the story could have been different. The attributes that society deemed threatening were ultimately what drove Medea. This raises the question of whether society was justified in their fear and intimidation of a nonconformist woman. It is possible. However, Medea’s unconventional pride prevented her from being disrespected. This is what ignited her anger and propelled her revenge – qualities that were considered unusual for women in that era.

Passage from Euripides’ The Medea, specifically lines 255-266.

Medea, who was won by her husband as a prize in a foreign land, feels abandoned and insignificant. She lacks any family support during her immense suffering. Consequently, she pleads for help to seek revenge against her husband, his new wife, and his father-in-law secretly. Although women are generally vulnerable and fearful in various situations, betrayal in matters of love drives them towards thoughts of vengeance.

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Alienation in the Medea. (2016, Sep 07). Retrieved from

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