An Outsiders Actions
In Euripides play Medea, the title character is frequently segregated as an outsider. Superficially, Medeas primary source of exclusion arises from her dilemma of being a barbarian in a Greek city. However, when the reader delves deeper into the text, various forms of Medeas repudiation are revealed. As a result of Medeas unrestrained passion, her acts of both fratricide and patricide leave her without relations or a home to return to after she is confronted with exile. Without a person to rely on but herself, Medea is exclusively responsible for her own solitude. Possessing matchless intelligence and skill, Medea is unlike any of the women of Corinth, and consequently viewed as a threat; in a male dominated society she becomes the subject of discrimination. Moreover, Medea is a being associated with the supernatural. Boasting an unfamiliar knowledge of potions and elixirs, and having familial connections to the gods, Medea is distinct from any of the citizens of Corinth. Throughout Medea, the title characters familiarity with separation and detachment from society attribute to her quandary and subsequent actions. By repeatedly displaying Medeas severance from social order, Euripides substantiates the characters carnal acts of murder, infanticide, and lack of remorse.
Indisputably, Medea would never have been faced with her predicament had she been born a Greek. Medeas dilemma first unfolds after her husband, Jason, remarries the Corinthian princess. Although the barbarian wife is enraged and indignant, Jason reasons that his choice to remarry was for the sole purpose to support [her] and the children. (Euripides, 557) As refugees Medea and Jason would have been unwelcomed, so his strategic plan to marry into the royal family of the city was plausible. He continues on to say that he forged an alliance to [protect] and [elevate] [them] all. (Euripides, 571-572) It is because of Medeas label as a barbarian that Jason decides to marry a Greek, deducing that if he were to remain her husband, their family would be forever disfavored because of her identity. Medea voices the Greek distaste for non-Greeks when she recounts Jasons shame to live the rest of [his] days with a barbarian like [her]. (Euripides, 599-600) Additionally, Jason rationalizes that [his] unborn sons will save [their] living ones. (Euripides, 573-574) His justification implies that his future Greek sons will give [his sons with Medea] a [connection] to the throne (Euripides, 604-605), and therefore compensate for his barbarian sons status. Regrettably for Medea, her despondent situation would never have come to fruition had she been born a Greek instead of a barbarian.
Although Medeas status as a barbarian is a key origin to her tribulations, supplementary sources can also be attributed to her merciless actions. One considerable aspect is that now without Jason, Medea is genuinely companionless in the world. Back in Colchis, Medea betrayed her father [and] butchered her brother,(Euripides, 159-160) committing ultimate treachery in order to secure Jason as her spouse. Now, facing exile, Medea realizes that lifes worst torment [is] to lose your true home and native land. (Euripides, 650-651) Additionally, while a dejected Medea explains her situation to the Corinthian women, she reveals that [she] worked hard to fit in, butwasnt given time tobuild alliances with friends. (Euripides, 230-248) Her explanation further divulges that she has allies in neither her familial home nor Corinth who can assist her. Furthermore, Medea laments that as a war bride, plundered from [her] country [who is] obligated to shelter [her]? (Euripides, 576-577) Although she answers her own question, the statement alone adds to her sense of helplessness and betrayal. To add to Medeas solitude, she feels that she is even more exposed by Jasons cruelties (Euripides, 575) than she would be otherwise, and blames him for forcing her to destroy her previous life to be his bride. Extraneous to her loss of a home and lack of friends, Medeas increasingly hostile sentiments toward her husband dissolve the single connection she had left. By severing all ties she once possessed, Medea successfully detaches herself from commonality. Disassociated from society, Medeas procedures in becoming a withdrawn outsider foreshadow the ability she has to act abnormally, and consequently foretell the brutal acts she later adversely commits.
In a patriarchal society, Medea is unlike many woman most would encounter. This fact is assured to the reader by Creon as he regards Medea as clever and vindictive [;] [thriving] on evil. (Euripides, 304-305) It is accepted that Medea does act in a dubious manner, yet the reader cannot miss that Medeas intelligence is immediately paired with malevolence. Like many women in previous times, Medea is mistrusted and despised for her cleverness (Euripides, 322). Creon intends to exile her without delay simply because of this fact, extenuating that if he were to let her stay any longer a woman like [her] would only hate [him] more for [his] weakness. (Euripides, 311-312) Euripides intentionally singles out Medea as a smart woman, unlike the Corinthian citizens in yet another way, and further corroborates her title as an outsider. Moreover, throughout the exchange between Creon and Medea, both characters recurrently speak of Medea as a woman like [me/you]. (Euripides, 311-344) This indicates that her actions are uncharacteristic of the majority of women and, again, emphasize her unconventionality. Another way Medea displays her uniqueness, is during her monologue to the women of Corinth. In her speech she addresses the conditions women face when entering marriage; a topic that would be atypical to discuss. Medeas discourse addresses marriage as an unwelcome affair, scoffing that husbands think [their wives] adore only them (Euripides, 263-264).Medeas blatant opinions are exceptionally forward and headstrong; an attribute that was uncommon in a woman. Having the status of an assertive, strong willed woman in a male dominated society, Medea is subsequently discriminated against. Her views and opinions, being so different from the social standard, bring about her predicament. Creons hasty exile is the result of the threat that Medeas intelligence, and ungovernable personality, pose. By continually disregarding social customs and distancing herself from the conventional, the reader can understand how Medea possesses the audacity to perform her vicious feats.
A great separation between Medea and the masses is her affiliation with the supernatural. Serving as Hecates servant, artist of potions and spells of guile, (Euripides, 422-423) Medea exemplifies her talent in brewing deadly concoctions. After arranging to give gifts to the princess bride as a false act of forgiveness, Medea declares that anyone who [unwraps] and [touches] the precious things [will] die painfully (Euripides, 777-778) adding that anyone who touches [the body] will be infected as well. (Euripides, 779-780) Evidently, Medeas actions are comparable to that of paranormal witchcraft and sorcery. Her craft serves her to [destroy] [the princess] by [her] fatal potions. (Euripides, 799) Not only is Medea a witch, but she also has familial connections to the divine. Medea entitles herself as granddaughter of the Sun (Euripides, 427), referring to the Greek god, Helios. In addition, after Medea commits the murder of her two sons, she escapes in her grandfather Helios chariot, and further justifies the murders by stating that the gods understand the source of [her] violence. (Euripides, 1347) With personal connections to the supernatural Medea is distinctively peculiar in a mortal setting. Moreover, we can see how Medea is able to justify her abhorrent acts by employing her connections to the divinities.
Medea is a dynamic character with numerous qualities. Interestingly, all of the traits that set her apart make her an outsider in various ways. As the sole barbarian in a Greek town, Medea is ostracized and the source of discrimination. Her barbaric passion leads to the loss of her family, both that in her homeland of Colchis and that which she acquired with Jason. Medea is penalized for being an intellectual and opinionated woman, and impulsively exiled, and with knowledge of witchcraft and an ancestral attachment to the gods, she is a force to be reckoned with. Medeas detachment from society in almost every approach accredit to her acts of revenge toward Jason. By constantly alluding to Medeas role as the ultimate outcast, Euripides authenticates the characters vile acts and vindicates how they could not have been achieved without her detrimental individuality. The barbarian wife continually refrains from conforming to Greek customs, and in the end her vengeance toward Jason was parallel to every other aspect about her; out of the ordinary.