How is Medea a proto-feminist play?
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It is feminist in the sense that it gives power to a woman. Medea takes revenge when she is spurned. She does not just sit back and wail, she takes action. However, it can also be viewed as a woman being fickle and unable to accept that she'd been jilted, which is a weakness.
feminism means struggle for equal rights and opportunities for women. How did Medea to this?
I am not sure she did, but I think the idea of the play was that a woman has rights. Therefore, by being angry and taking revenge Medea was supporting the granting of equal rights to women, at least to a certain extent.
Medea is very much advocating equality for women. The central conflict of the play is the fact that Jason can just up and leave their marriage for something better, but that she is has no stand in the case. She makes it very clear that there is not true "cause" on Jason's part except his own selfishness. She explicitly recounts all she has done for Jason. The fact that Medea is a foreigner in Corinth complicates matters for her because she understands that the new wife (princess of Corinth) isn't going to tolerate her presence and she is left with no where to turn. Jason tries to justify his behavior which is what ultimately sends her over the edge and drives her to take just drastic revenge on him.
Medea can be seen as a proto-feminist play in many ways, including the following:
* Medea feels aggrieved by a man but, instead of simply accepting this situation, she asserts her own power. She assumes that she has just as much right to act in this way as any man does.
* When Creon wants to banish her, she doesn't hesitate to argue on her own behalf, and her arguments prove persuasive. In other words, she assumes that she has the right to speak (as well as to act) as a man might do.
* Medea displays the same kind of concern with her reputation that a man might display. She takes her public status seriously.
This list might easily be extended, but the three examples cited above should give you some idea of how the play might be read as a proto-feminist work.
What is fascinating about this play is the way in which Medea does not passively sit back and accept the injustice of what has been happening to her. Whilst of course we could argue against the extent of the revenge that she takes, she is definitely not presented as a weak female figure that is silent in the face of patriarchal injustice. Her desire to gain revenge and get even gives power to women and is an example of how women can operate to assert themselves in the face of patriarchal oppression.
The play could also be considered as anti-feminist because it again and again highlights that a woman is dangerous and murderous. It also throws light on the idea of motherhood which is missing in the life of Medea. Moreover it says that women are clever and dishonest. They ensnare people by speaking lies.
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