How does the play reflect the inequality betweeen the genders?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Euripides Medea, women have only limited freedom of action, reflecting the actual situation of Athenian society at the time when it was written. The female character who appears to be most powerful and act most freely is Medea, who is not a Greek but a barbarian princess and a sorcerer. She does not act independently, though, for her motives in killing her brother and tricking Pelias`daughters into killing their father were purely out of love for Jason. Her final revenge on Jason and killing of her own children are in response to his taking another wife.

She does not at any time wield political or civic power and acts entirely from personal motives. For the Greeks, in which male power (and ethics) were situated in the interactions of the polis, this was a grotesque and evil amplification of the female role, which was limited to action within the household. Despite Medea`s dramatic actions, like actual Greek, her sphere of activity is limited to the household (she only affects people related to her) and she has no actual power over anyone outside the household.

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