Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Medea (mih-DEE-uh), a princess of Colchis and the wife of Jason. Medea had aided Jason in avoiding the traps laid for him by her father, King Aeetes of Colchis, while regaining the Golden Fleece. Fleeing with Jason, she had murdered her own brother to aid in the escape. In Jason’s hereditary kingdom of Iolcus, where they first settled but where Pelias, Jason’s uncle, had cheated him of his rights, Medea tricked the daughters of Pelias into murdering their father. For this deed, Medea, Jason, and their two children were exiled. The play is set in Corinth, where they went after leaving Iolcus and where Jason has put Medea aside so that he can marry Glauce, the daughter of Creon, the king of Corinth. It is at this point that the action of the play begins. The dramatic development, centering around Medea, is perhaps the finest example in Greek drama of character development. Medea changes from a woman overwhelmed with sorrow at her husband’s desertion to a woman dominated by a fury of revenge in which every other feeling, even love for her children, is sacrificed to a desire to hurt Jason. The opening situation of the play concerns a sympathetic presentation of the sorrowful plight of Medea. She has given up home and position for Jason and can belong to no other except through him; these facts are conveyed by the nurse before Medea appears. Medea cries out violently against Jason before she appears and foreshadows the destruction of the children. When she appears, she is proud but courteous and self-possessed. She expresses her ills as those of all women, but greater, and she asks the Chorus not to betray her if she finds the means of vengeance. They promise secrecy. Creon appears to pronounce a sentence of exile on Medea and the children because he is afraid of her power as a sorceress. She is able only to convince him to grant her a one-day respite. When Creon leaves, Medea reveals her more barbaric and violent side in a terrible speech in which she decides to poison Creon and his...
(The entire section is 834 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Medea Characters. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!