Medea sharply criticizes the male-dominated society of its time. Its protagonist is a radical anti-heroine who continues to inspire both admiration and fear. We sympathize with Medea's downtrodden state and applaud her strength and intelligence. However, her bloody and vengeful rebellion shocks and unsettles audiences even to this day. The play can be seen as a cautionary tale to oppressors as well as the oppressed.
Medea is symbolic of the intelligent woman caged by patriarchy.
Medea's relentless pursuit of vengeance is legendary. She is driven by a passionate desire to right the wrongs done to her and sacrifices even her own children in the pursuit of satisfaction. Medea shows audiences the horror that can come when a person lets desire for revenge rule her life. Euripides's play helped pave the way for many later revenge tragedies, from the numerous Spanish revenge dramas to Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Medea is a cautionary tale on the horrors that revenge can cause.
Medea's lust for revenge makes her an unsympathetic character.
All the violence and terror in Medea is caused by Jason's betrayal of his wife Medea. Her sheer rage at his unfaithfulness drives her to commit horrific acts of bloody revenge. Ironically, Medea's fury at her husband's betrayal drives her to the use of trickery and manipulation, which are really just another form of betrayal. Medea shows how, when one person betrays another, all may be corrupted.
Jason's unfaithful behavior and lack of sensitivity towards Medea is symbolic of the overall unfair treatment of women.
Jason never betrayed his family or Medea; he only acted in their best interest by marrying Glauke.
Medea is laced throughout with the theme of exile. All the characters relate to the motif. Some, like Medea, have been banished from their homes; some are the ones doing the banishing. The theme of exile would have resonated strongly with Euripides's audience of ancient Athenians. Their city-state was their lives. The thought of being cut off from it and cast out into the wilderness would have been terrifying.
Jason's betrayal of Medea is worsened by the fact that she forsook her father and homeland for love of him.
Medea's banishment is her own fault, as her threats of Creon and his daughter are what cause it.
Ancient Greeks had a deep suspicion of foreigners, thinking of them all as "barbarians." With Medea, Euripides seems to confront this prejudice by choosing to honor a foreigner with the role of tragic heroine and by making her the most intelligent character in the play. However, the playwright also confirms many Greek stereotypes of foreigners by making Medea wild, overly passionate, and vengeful.
Medea defies Greek conceptions of uncultured foreigners by making its heroine the most intelligent character in the play.
Medea confirms Greek notions of barbarous foreigners by depicting its heroine as violent and vengeful.
Medea is an extreme depiction of just how bad a marriage can go. It really doesn't get much worse than the marriage seen in this play. When Jason takes a new wife, Medea, his former wife takes revenge by killing four people, including their two sons. Indeed, the play doesn't exactly have a bright outlook on matrimony. In Medea the severing of a marriage releases the same destructive force as the sundered atom of a nuclear bomb.
Medea can be interpreted as a searing indictment of the institution of marriage.
Euripides's two divorces are perhaps reflected in his cynical portrayal of marriage.
Medea is symbolic of the clever woman imprisoned in a world of men. Her intelligence inspires both suspicion and cautious admiration. In the end, her cunning becomes her supreme weapon in her quest for revenge. None of her enemies stand a chance against her supreme intellect. Medea shows that, without a doubt, the greatest power lies in knowledge.
The community's mistrust of Medea is heightened by the fact she's smarter than everybody else.
By depicting a foreigner as being smarter than all the Greek characters, Euripides defies Greek prejudice against foreigners.
Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, is not very well appreciated in Euripides's Medea. Everywhere her hand is seen, destruction swiftly follows. Whether the love be romantic, paternal, or maternal, it always leads to death and despair. Quite often the characters even go so far as to beg the goddess to spare them the pains that love can bring. Overall, Medea seems to present a rather cynical view of the tenderest of emotions.
Love is a force of destruction in Medea.
Creon's sympathy towards Medea's sons, along with his love for his daughter, make him quite a sympathetic character.