Medea Essay, Research Paper
Medea: The Real Tragic Hero
In Medea, a play by Euripides, the tragic hero is assumed to be Medea. On the contrary, Jason is the character that suffers and loses the most. The play is about a woman, named Medea, who has sacrificed much to be with her husband. They?ve been married for ten years and have two children. Her husband, Jason, decides to remarry and keep her as his concubine. This enrages Medea and she devises a plot to get even with him. In the end, Medea carries out her revenge and Jason is left with nothing. Jason is cursed with many catastrophic flaws that lead to his downfall and that of others around him.
One of Jason?s main flaws is his ignorance of everything. Such as when he sees Medea crying and asks, ?what is this-these dewy eyes, these tears; your white face turned away as if my words struck pain, not joy??(act IV lines 81-84). He is unaware of the actual motives behind her tears. Unfortunately, Jason is aware of her ?preference for evil? and ?blazing rage?(act II lines 213&251) when he tells her his reasons for remarrying. Medea is able to reply with a few smart lies and makes Jason oblivious again to her intentions. Jason?s ignorance frees Medea of suspicion and makes him na?ve to the danger awaiting those around him.
Another poor trait that leads to Jason?s downfall is his great pride. Medea knows she can use Jason?s ego against him and states, ?I have been arguing with myself, have taxed myself severely. ?You raving fool?, I said, ?To antagonize those who want to do you good.’?(act IV lines 8-11). Medea realizes Jason has a need to be above others and to always be right. She decides to use these needs against him. Jason doesn?t even question himself about her sudden change in attitude. He simply accepts that Medea is ?in a better frame of mind?(act IV line 61). Because of Jason?s conceit, Medea is able to carry out her revenge without anybody knowing.
Medea?s plot for revenge is only enhanced by Jason?s ungratefulness and apathy. Jason believes he is helping her without getting anything in return when he tells her, ?But this I shall maintain: that what you gained by saving me was far more than you gave.?(act II lines 135-137). He doesn?t realize the ungratefulness of his words. If Medea hadn?t helped him, Jason would have been unable to retrieve the Golden Fleece. After all that Medea has sacrificed and done for him, Jason tells her to ?suffer then accordingly?(act II line 253) after she has been banished. This greatly illustrates his apathy towards his ex-wife. In the end, Jason deserves what he gets for not recognizing and respecting those who have helped him.
A trait that Jason does not possess is guilt. He doesn?t take the blame for anything throughout the play, especially after his children have perished. Jason blames Medea when she cries, ?The gods know who began this whole calamity.? Jason replies, ?Yes, the gods know well your pernicious heart.?(act VII lines 139-142). He doesn?t believe at all that he is to blame for his children?s deaths, although he was the one that left his wife to remarry. Without guilt, he feels that Medea did it out of pure evil. If Jason could feel guilty for his actions, he would make better decisions.
Jason may have felt guiltless because he was such a liar and a hypocrite. He contradicts himself at times throughout the play. For example, on the case of money he states, ?houses crammed with gold?are nothing without name?(act II lines 147-149), but money is important enough for him to remarry and abandon his family. Later, in the same conversation, Jason tells Medea he wasn?t leaving her to have more children. However, Jason contradicts himself again and states he?ll ?rear young princes to be brothers to my sons.?(act II lines 219-221). Since the marriage already puts a noble status on his children, Jason doesn?t need to have more children. Jason believes the marriage is a business arrangement for his family. If that were the case, then when Medea offers gifts to the new wife, Jason replies, ?my mere wish will have more weight than things, I?m sure of that.?(act IV line 138-39). In a true business marriage, Jason wouldn?t have made such a remark. He would have encouraged this nice suggestion to enhance the business arrangement. Jason?s declaration helps prove that he and his new bride are marrying for love. Also, near the end of the play, Jason never denies that he?s remarrying for sex. While they are arguing near the end, Medea explains what killed her children. Jason replies, ?You think it right to murder just for a thwarted bed.?(act VII lines 129-30). Jason should have replied, ?I didn?t lust her? or ?I did it for our family?. It appears he lied so much that he was even lying to himself. If Jason had told Medea his true feelings, he may have met a much better fate.
Jason?s terrible traits lead to his decline throughout the play. Although the play is named after Medea, Jason appears to be the actual tragic hero. He suffers and loses the most of all the characters. Jason loses a ?girlfriend?, a wife, and two children. Jason?s characteristics combine to create disaster for himself and for those around him.