When writing The Medea, Euripides challenged the social norms by abandoning the gender roles of the ancient Greek society. The main characters, Jason and Medea, are atypical characters in many ways. Medea defies perceptions of the normal attitudes of men and women by overcoming her "female" emotions and performing acts that the ancient Greeks considered manly. Meanwhile, Jason seems to be much more meek and diminished. These gender anomalies are apparent through Medea and Jason's character traits, actions, and reasoning. Medea pushes the limit of the stereotypical restrictions on her gender by committing murderous acts; while her husband Jason acts very womanly. The two main characters seem to almost switch or reverse gender roles, and then behave in accordance with the reversed roles.
The most notable "male" characteristic that Medea embodies is pride. After Jason betrays her, she seems all too willing to commit murder for the sake of her reputation and revenge. The Chorus comments:
Things have gone badly in every way...there are still trials to come for the new-wedded pair, and for their relations pain that will mean something...and in this I will make dead bodies of three of my enemies-father, the girl, and my husband. I have many ways of death which I might suit to them, and do not know friends, which one to take in hand (Euripides 364-378).
Medea has obviously not lost her mind, but instead just feels inexplicably drawn to action to avoid being made a fool.
This unnatural pride is typically associated with the male gender, but Medea desires revenge more than any man would. The ancient Greek society often considered women submissive and weaker, but Medea's character stands directly in opposition of this view. "Now, friends, has come the time of my triumph over my enemies, and now my foot is on the road. Now I am confident they will pay the penalty...listen to these words that are not spoken idly" (Euripides 765-773). Medea is a strong and powerful...
Bibliography: Euripides. The Medea. Trans. Rex Warner. Chicago: The University of Chicago, 1955.
"Medea - An Abandonment of Gender Roles". BigNerds.com Jan 2004
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