Medea and Electra Essay - Critical Essays


Sample Essay Outlines

Topic #1
In the various legends telling the tale of Medea’s revenge against her faithless husband Jason, the character of Medea was almost universally drawn as monstrous and mad, with her powers as a sorceress (or witch) almost universally foregrounded. There was little to suggest her human side. Although Euripides invented the monstrous act of infanticide for her, he was also able to show that she was a master of logical argumentation and that as a mother, this act was extremely painful to her as well. How does Euripides paint a more fully–fleshed character in his Medea?

I. Thesis Statement: As drawn by Euripides, the character of Medea is neither monsterous nor mad. She is, rather, a threedimensional woman driven by character and circumstance to commit unthinkable acts.

II. Scenes Arguing Against Medea’s “Madness”
A. Medea’s initial address to the Chorus in the first episode.
B. Medea’s debate with Creon.
C. Medea’s debate with Jason.
D. Medea’s scene with Aegeus.
E. Medea’s second scene with Jason.
F. The Choral passage after Medea has killed her sons.

III. Scenes of Medea’s Maternal Dimensions
A. Medea’s scene with Creon.
B. Medea’s second scene with Jason.
C. Medea’s self–debate in the Fifth Episode, after the children have been to the palace.

IV. Scenes Revealing the Problematic Circumstances Influencing Medea
A. The Nurse’s prologue.
B. Medea’s initial address to the Chorus.
C. The Tutor’s news that Medea and the children are to be banished, and Jason’s seeming indifference to that fact.
D. Medea’s first debate with Jason.
E. Aegeus’ response to Medea’s story.
F. Medea’s final episode with Jason.
G. The ongoing response of the Chorus to Medea’s plight.

V. Euripides’ implied messages about the lot of women, and his critique of cold dynastic ambition as represented by Jason.

Topic #2
Appearance vs. reality is a central motif running throughout Electra, which Euripides uses both to develop his characters and to make a point to his audience. Discuss the ways in which this motif is played out through the course of the play.

I. Thesis Statement: Throughout Electra, Euripides opposes the appearance of things to their reality, to provide subtle...

(The entire section is 1001 words.)