opens with a speech by the nurse, who explains the backstory of the play.
In order to help
Jason obtain the Golden Fleece, Medea killed her brother and abandoned her homeland.
Jason then settled in Iolchus, where, for Jason’s political benefit, Medea contrived the death of his uncle.
The couple fled from Iolchus and adopted Corinth as their homeland.
Here, Jason rejected Medea and
married a Corinthian princess.
After the nurse reminds the audience of Medea’s misadventures and current situation,
enters and expresses hatred towards her children, her husband, and herself.
Creon, the king of Corinth,
enters and gives Medea one day to leave the city. After Creon leaves, Medea vows to kill Jason, Creon,
and the princess but recognizes that no city will receive her after she commits this act.
responsibility for Medea’s impending exile, Jason enters and asserts that his new marriage will protect
himself and his children against exile.
In contrast to Creon and Jason’s rejection of Medea, Aegeus, the king of Athens, agrees to offer
Medea unconditional refuge in his city.
Knowing that she can flee to Athens, Medea resolves to kill her
children after destroying Jason’s new marriage.
To carry out the first half of her plans, Medea sends her
children to the palace with a poisoned robe for Jason’s new wife.
The robe kills both the princess and
Creon, who touches the dress while trying to save his daughter.
A messenger warns Medea that a search
party has been sent to apprehend her for this crime.
In response, Medea quickly slays her children.
reaches Medea’s home and finds her in a magical chariot with the children’s bodies.
Medea refuses to
give the bodies to Jason and flies away, presumably to Athens.
Medea is a sorceress with divine connections.
She comes from the “opposite shore of the
Greeks,” and is therefore considered a barbarian (210).
Medea’s cleverness, coupled with eastern magic,
poses a threat to the Greeks that they cannot fully understand.
Creon banishes Medea, because she is a
“clever woman, versed in evil arts,/ And.
..angry at having lost [her] husband” (68).
Medea’s character, fearing her without fully grasping her mindset or motives.
Creon and others assume
that Medea is a dangerous and exotic mystery.
Medea contradicts this mystification of her character.
She facetiously claims that her “cleverness/ Is” actually “not so much” (pg 69).
Medea portrays her ways
as being simple but tragically misconstrued.
Both Creon and Medea’s characterizations are oversimplified.
She is neither crazed and
conniving nor transparent and guileless.
Medea’s many reasons for murder reveal the complex reality of
Jason’s broken marriage oath
“Indeed, I cannot tell/ Whether you think the gods whose names
you swore by then/ Have ceased to rule and new standards are set up” (493-4).