In the play Medea, by Euripides, many techniques are incorporated to augment the compelling persona of the protagonist, Medea. She has an overpowering presence, which is fashioned through the use of imagery, offstage action and language. Dramatic suspense, employment of the chorus and Deus Ex Machina also serve to enhance the intense persona assumed by Medea.
Medea is frequently associated with images of violence and rage. “She’s wild. Hate’s in her blood. /She feeds her rage…Stormclouds of anger.” These images suggest hatred, and anger, they are powerful and present a strong, illustration of Medea’s persona. Like nature, Medea is constructed as commanding and yet also unpredictable; this consequentially creates uncertainty as to what she shall do next and thus intrigues the audience with her character. Parallels between Medea and wild animals are often drawn in order to portray her as wild and untamed. “Bullglares, lions claws” and “you hellhound, you tigress,” these comments serve to highlight Medea’s animalistic side thus increasing her onstage presence and compelling persona. Medea’s two-fold personality is revealed through imagery of stone and harshness. She is both passionately emotional and coolly calculating, depending on which enhances her cause. “Cold as stone, cold eyes,” in 5th Century BC the eyes were considered of great importance, reflections of the soul, thus to have cold eyes is to have a cold soul. This notion is confronting to the audience and heightens Medea’s onstage presence.
The use of offstage action is effective in constructing Medea’s authoritative persona. “Fe-oo! Fee-oo! Weep. Pity me.” These lamentations are passionate and emotional, exactly what many men of Ancient Greek society would expect of a woman. Suspense is built and the audience’s attention captured, focusing it on Medea and the moment of her on-stage arrival. However, when Medea does appear on stage she is calm and composed, dispelling the notion of a “wild woman”. “Ladies, Corinthians, I’m here./ Don’t think ill of me. Call others proud.” The Medea character has the power to command the audience through this presentation of her dual natures; she can be defined within the typical female gender role as emotional and passionate, yet she usurps masculine traits of rationality, resourcefulness and intelligence, creating a powerful presence.
Language is of great importance in presenting Medea’s forceful persona. The “Are we women not the wretchedness?” diatribe on the oppression of women is powerful and commanding. It is delivered early on in the...
With her security certain, Medea tells the Chorus of her plans. She will kill Jason's new bride and father-in-law by the aid of poisoned gifts. To make her revenge complete, she will kill her children to wound Jason and to protect them from counter-revenge by Creon's allies and friends. Many scholars now believe that the murder of Medea's children was Euripides' addition to the myth; in older versions, the children were killed by Creon's friends in revenge for the death of the king and princess. The Chorus begs Medea to reconsider these plans, but Medea insists that her revenge must be complete.