In Medea, what commentary does the Chorus provide, and what are its dramatic and thematic functions in this play?
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The Chorus is all female and has two roles: it responds to the actions of Media and it directs the response of the audience to Media’s actions. The Chorus’ attitude toward Media begins with sympathy, shifts to condemnation, and then, after Media kills her children, to absolute horror. Yet even while horrified, the Chorus continues to pity Media, and in doing so guides the audience to feel compassion for her despite her awful deed. The Chorus reminds the audience that Jason put her in a very difficult, desperate position, and that desperate people will do things they otherwise would not. One important theme in the play is revenge, and the Chorus’ role in regard to it is important. The Chorus sympathizes with Media's need for revenge as retribution for Jason’s betrayal, but they set limits for the legitimacy of revenge when Media kills her children. There, the Chorus says, she crosses a line that should never be crossed: a woman should never murder her children regardless of the circumstance. Enotes has an excellent discussion on the function of the Chorus at the sites located by the links below.
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