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Theme of Women and Femininity in Perseus and Medusa

The issue of women and femininity in Perseus' stories are kind of problematic. As we see it, women are either beautiful and helpless damsels in distress (Danae, Andromeda) or ugly monsters (the Gorgons, the Graeae). Perseus saves the damsels and defeats the monsters either through might (Medusa) or clever tricks (other Gorgons, icky sisters). In other words, in this myth, we don't see any strong female characters – at least not any that survive.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. Why do you think we don't see any strong female characters in this story? How might this story reflect the role of women in ancient Greek society?
  2. Many feminists have taken on Medusa as a symbol. Why do you think that is? What about Medusa is appealing?
  3. Does Athena offer a strong female presence in the story, or is she too minor of a character?
  4. How did you feel about Perseus' treatment of the female "monsters" in this story?
  5. Is it significant that Medusa doesn't get a chance to fight Perseus?

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