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The Play Medea by Euripides

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    Throughout history, many honor codes have based their sense of justice on the principle of an eye for an eye. However, while justice seeks to better society, revenge is solely designed to harm. In the play Medea, the author Euripides illustrates the perils of using revenge as a means to right wrongdoings. After Medea suffers the injustice of her husband’s betrayal, she feels justified in taking every measure she can to avenge herself. However, her support from the chorus disappears after she kills her own children in her pursuit, marring the success of her justice.

    Overall, Euripides insinuates that human’s egos complicate their ability to enact justice and suggests that justice is best left to the Gods. After her husband Jason has left her for another woman, Medea laments the injustice of her situation. But soon her self-pity turns to hatred for Jason. With support from the chorus of women, she feels empowered to enact her version of justice, namely killing Jason’s second wife. Apart from the support of the chorus, the nurse also laments the injustice of her situation and the inevitability of her desire for revenge.

    Also, Aegeus is indignant on her behalf and offers her refuge in Athens, so that she has a place to go after she completes her plan. This kind of support for Medea helps the audience look at the events from her perspective and make her actions seem more rational. However, Medea loses the support of the chorus when she completely overlooks her motherly love for her children and kills them as part of her revenge against Jason. Medea does not stop after poisoning Jason’s wife.

    After this initial success, Medea becomes even more consumed with revenge so much so that she overlooks the Chorus’s disapproval, Jason’s pleas, and her own rationality. Blinded by revenge, she does not realize the consequences of her actions and how they will destroy her. At the end, Medea might have been successful in destroying all of Jason’s loved ones but, in the process, she also destroys herself and all she has to live for. Thus, using Medea as an example, Euripides is able to illustrate the humans are not truly capable of restoring justice.

    Our egos and our limited perspective complicate our ability to enact justice. Medea considers the murder of her children and exacting revenge on Jason as just measures to make Jason pay for the vows to Medea he has broken and the humiliation he has caused her to face. However, Medea’s vindictive actions lead to her downfall as well because they are not truly just and in the best interest of society. Rather they are pointed acts of revenge that make both Jason and Medea suffer as a result. Thus, as Euripides illustrates by Medea’s downfall, justice is best left in the hands of higher forces.

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    The Play Medea by Euripides. (2017, Jan 09). Retrieved from

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