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Plot in The Medea

Plot Examples in The Medea:

The Medea

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"Yet underneath . . . nay, all the tale of it Were graceless telling; how sheer love, a fire Of poison-shafts, compelled thee with desire To save me...."   (The Medea)

In Greek mythology, Eros (God of Love), son of Aphrodite, is portrayed as a boy with a golden bow who shoots arrows of desire at mortals and immortals alike. Not even Zeus can resist these arrows. Here, in reaction to Medea’s claim that she is responsible for her husband’s fame and for saving his life, Jason argues that it was Aphrodite’s son Eros that is responsible for her actions, and therefore he is relieved of all fault for remarrying and forsaking her. Jason finds a way to discredit all of Medea’s actions and relieve himself of any debt to her.

"My fathers' father, the high Sun..."   (The Medea)

In Greek mythology, Medea is a descendant of Helios, the god of the sun. Helios sends his chariot pulled by dragons to save Medea from Jason’s wrath. A god suddenly and unexpectedly intervening in the action of a play is a literary trope called deus ex machina, or the god in the machine. It generally occurs when it seems that the protagonist has no hope of escape. When Greek tragedies were performed, an actor playing a god would be physically lowered onto the stage by a machine—typically a crane— hence the name of the trope.

"For never child of mine shall Jason see Hereafter living, never child beget From his new bride..."   (The Medea)

Medea decides to kill her children so that Jason will have no heirs to his name and legacy. Having killed his wife and slaughtered his children, Medea will leave Jason with nothing. She considers this action the absolute form of revenge for the wrongs Jason has committed against her.

"Maia's..."   (The Medea)

In Greek mythology, Maia is the mother of Hermes, the god of transitions, boundaries, and travelers. The chorus references these two figures from mythology to wish Aegeus a safe journey home.

"Hecatê..."   (The Medea)

Hecate was the goddess of the crossroads, witchcraft, magic, necromancy, and poison. Hecate was associated with torches, keys, serpents and daggers, and thought to live in the underworld. Here, Medea prays to Hecate to help her with her murderous plot to poison Jason, Glauce, and Creon.

"And more, thou hast made menace . . . so the alarms But now have reached mine ear . . . on bride and groom, And him who gave the bride, to work thy doom Of vengeance...."   (The Medea)

Creon states that he has heard that Medea has made threats against Jason, his new bride Glauce, and her father Creon. Creon fears Medea because he knows that she wields supernatural power.

"banishment..."   (The Medea)

Banishment, or exile, was the most extreme punishment in ancient Greece comparable to a death sentence. Without her place in society as a protected wife and mother, a woman in exile was forced to beg and live as a nomad. Unlike men, women often could not find work or anyone to take them in. King Creon seeks to banish Medea and her children to protect his daughter and her new husband, Jason.

"Jason doth forsake My mistress and his own two sons, to make His couch in a king's chamber...."   (The Medea)

Once they arrived in Corinth, Jason forsook his vows to Medea and sought the hand in marriage of Glauce, Creon’s daughter. Jason wanted to marry Glauce to gain power and access to the throne.

"Hunted for that fierce sin, to Corinth here With Jason and her babes. ..."   (The Medea)

After Medea kills King Pelias, Jason is not restored to the throne. Instead, Pelias’s son took the throne and banished Jason and Medea. They fled with their children to Corinth, where Creon the king offered them shelter.

"NURSE..."   (The Medea)

The Nurse acts as a type of prologue at the beginning of this play by setting up the story and reminding the audience who these characters are. The following speech references the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece and the aftermath of the Argonauts’ quest to remind the audience of the mythological story from which this play draws.

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