Children as the Symbols of Status (20 Points)
The Greeks believed in many gods, but one of the first was Mother Earth. She was the provider of all things needed by man to survive, from food and water to shelter and living space. Her influence on the Greeks was profound at first, but eventually everything good about her was demonized. This was the result of men realizing that women were more naturally productive, giving birth and taking care of the infants that would carry on the human species. Women’s natural gifts were as a result demonized as well by the men who felt the need to dominate. Children were consequently reduced to carriers of a family name. Needless to say, this was protested against by many, but in the male-dominated society there was very little women or children could do to show their disappointment with the system. Medea, by Euripides, demonstrates the extremes of what a woman could do to break free of the bonds of society, and presents her case in such a way as to grant her freedom from her crimes. This use of the deus ex machina was perhaps the most effective way to get the point across. In this play of betrayal and revenge, the children of Medea and Jason serve to illustrate the social plights caused by a male-dominated society; they are the products of and symbolize a marriage in which Medea is cast aside and are the progression of a male lineage, only cared about for their capacity to carry a family name.
The children Medea has with Jason are most important for their symbolic meaning; they are the products of a marriage that ends poorly for Medea and so symbolize the oppression and demonization of women caused by Greek society. Medea’s failed marriage to Jason, a result of her foreign origins, is founded on an attitude common to most Greek men: women were for bearing children and raising them. The children Medea has from this marriage come to symbolize the marriage itself to Medea, as is apparent because “She hates the children, takes...
Cited: Taplin, Oliver, trans. "Medea." Euripedes I. Third Edition ed. Chicago, London: University of Chicago, n.d. 73-133. Print.
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