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Essay Questions On Medea

Who is the hero of this play?  Is there a hero?

How would you begin to describe Medea?  In what ways is she an outsider and how important is this to the story?  To what degree is she different and to what degree is she "one of us?"  How significant is it that she is descended from the gods?

"A time has come," announces the Chorus, "for the female sex to be honoured."  Does the play Medea honour women?  What image of women is conveyed by the play?  How, if at all, does the play distinguish between male and female?  To what extent should Medea's suffering be seen as a metaphor for women's status in the ancient Greek world?  Should we see her as a powerful/dangerous deviant or instead as an everywoman?

To what extent is Medea "manly" and to what extent is Jason "unmanly?"

To what extent does the relationship between "Greekness" and the "Barbarian" structure the play?

What  does the play have to say about  the human condition?  About happiness?  About power and fortune?  About the comforts to be found in family life and children?

To what extent are the central characters victims of circumstance, fate and the gods, and to what extent do they control their own destiny?  How do they grow and/or become wiser as events unfold?  What characters, if any, seem to remain rooted in a state of denial?

What insights are offered through the words and actions of any of the minor characters (the Nurse, the Tutor, Jason's new wife, King Creon, Aegeus, the Messenger, Medea's children)?

What connections might you make between the events Euripides describes at Corinth and the earlier parts of the Jason and the Argonauts myth?  How does Euripides use this back-story (that would have been familiar to his audience) and how does this part of the myth add to our understanding of the main characters in the play?

What connections and/or comparisons would you make between the story of Medea as portrayed by Euripides and the Labyrinth myth?  How would you compare and contrast Jason as "hero" with Theseus?  How would you compare Medea with both Ariadne and Pasiphae?

How would you compare and contrast the character of Medea with the Achilles of the Iliad?

Euripides has alternately been described over the centuries as a feminist, as a misogynist, as a social critic or as a champion of "Greekness."  To what extent do you think he identifies with  Medea and how, based upon your reading of this play, would you begin to characterize him?

Sophocles once said that Euripides depicts people as they are rather than as they ought to be.  Do you agree?  Can this play still speak to us from across the centuries?

"Woman On The Verge," Connection, WBUR, October 30, 2002:  An American public radio show that discusses a recent production of the play.


 

Discuss the structure and role of the classical Greek play, being sure to address the following: Is there a particular format a tragedy was to follow; what did audiences expect to receive when going to see a play in ancient Greece; were the plays used primarily for storytelling, or was there also another purpose?

Discuss the structure and role of the classical Greek play, being sure to address the following: Is there a particular format a tragedy was to follow; what did audiences expect to receive when going to see a play in ancient Greece; were the plays used primarily for storytelling, or was there also another purpose?

The chorus plays an integral role within "Medea" and many classic Greek plays. Discuss this role, considering the following: What was the primary function of the chorus; how were the lines of the chorus delivered, and why was that delivery used; what is the interaction between the audience and the chorus?

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