Do you believe Creon and Jason deserve what has happened to them in Medea?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Clint Eastwood says a great line in the film "Unforgiven" about this very concept.  Eastwood's character is going to kill a very corrupt and evil sheriff.  The sheriff, with his last words, says, "I don't deserve this!"  Eastwood's character looks at the sheriff and with a cold detachment, but stunning clarity remarks, "Deserve got nothing to do with it."  This might be where Creon and Jason lie.  Perhaps, they do not deserve what fate falls upon them, but in the end, "deserve got nothing to do with it."  Their conditions are a statement of what is and serve as a cautionary tale that sincerity and authenticity in what one believes is right has to take other forces into account and is not valid on its own merit.  Jason did break the heart of Medea and the enotes summary is fairly blunt about it:  "Jason almost deserves the punishment Medea serves him."  In the end, this might be where Euripedes is voicing pure genius in that the audience is left trying to assess who is worse between both Jason and Medea.  I am not sure either are worthy of the pain that the other forces them to endure, or perhaps they are together because they deserve one another.  The pain and cruelty of one is matched by the other.  In the end, one cannot fully separate if one is more or less guilty than another.  The idea of "deserve" seems to only fit when considering that they probably do deserve one another.  For Creon and his challenges with Antigone, his transgressions are still rooted in the perceived authenticity and superiority of his own sense of self.  However, I believe that there are some fundamental challenges in that Creon is acting in name of kingdom, believing that his word as a political leader will be compromised by succumbing to Antigone's claim.  In the end, this becomes a critical point.  Sophocles might be making a point that if leaders wish to avert painful conditions, they have to exercise more caution in "drawing lines in the sand" and must make sure that these declarations are made with sufficient public support.  Naturally, what happens to him as a result is a challenge and proves to be extremely painful, similar to Jason's predicament.  However, the reality that emerges from both situations is that human action can be unclear and possess an obscure meaning, and that individuals are much better off when they seek to understand and empathize with such conditions as opposed to seeking to artificially reduce them to ideas such as "This was deserved" or "This was not."  In the end, "deserve has got nothing to do with it."

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