How is the play Medea related to or relevant to today's time?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Psychiatrists have identified a condition they have termed the Medea Complex, deriving the name from the ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides, just as Sigmund Freud derived his term "Oedipus Complex" from the ancient Greek play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. This theory postulates that some divorced, separated, or unwed mothers experience the "Medea Complex" to a greater or lesser degree when they are abandoned by their husbands or lovers. Since they cannot vent their anger on the absent man, they may take it out on their children. According to the theory, sons will suffer more than daughters because the women are more likely to see their husbands in their sons. A Child Called "It" is a shocking memoir of horrific child abuse suffered by the author, Dave Pelzer (see reference link below). In extreme cases a mother may murder one or more of her children, as Medea did in the Greek tragedy. Some psychiatrists theorize that, with daughters, there appears to be a stronger tendency among mothers exhibiting the Medea Complex to attempt to condition them to hate all men. This could suggest that Charles Dickens' character Miss Havisham in Great Expectations might have been training her adopted daughter Estella to regard all men as enemies because the vindictive old woman had conceived a hatred for men after being jilted on her wedding day. When a woman is abandoned by a man, some theorists suggest, she may feel she is being forced to raise "his" children and also that the children are an obstacle to her getting remarried. The Medea Complex could be seen as having existed for millennia, but only postulated and studied by psychotherapists in recent years.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The play Medea is about a woman whose husband leaves her for another woman. In her jealousy and anger, she attempts to get back at him by killing their children. How is it relevant to today? Almost every day we hear news stories of spouses (most often today it's the husband) who kill their children in order to get back at or send a message to the other parent. Medea has been abandoned by the man she loves. The same thing has happened to women from the beginning of time. Some women, like Medea, resort to the crime of murder. Sadly, that scene continues to be repeated today.