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Tone in The Medea

Tone Examples in The Medea:

The Medea

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"Would God no Argo e'er had winged the seas To Colchis through the blue Symplêgades:..."   (The Medea)

The Nurse begins the play situating this play in the Greek mythos. The Argo is the ship from the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece, a well-known myth in Ancient Greece. King Pelias of Iolcus sends Jason and a band of heroes called the Argonauts to retrieve the Golden Fleece from Medea’s father King Aeetes in Colchis. The Argonauts face many challenges on their journey to Colchis including the Symplegades, a pair of rocks that clashed together whenever anyone went through them. Jason’s ability to navigate these challenges proved that he had divine help and that he was a great hero. Establishing this history gives the story an authoritative tone and aligns it with other famous tragedies.

"Not that! Not that! . . . I do but pray, O King . . ...."   (The Medea)

Medea seems to have a change of heart half-way through this line. At first she pleads not to be exiled, or forced to leave by Creon’s soldiers. Then, after the ellipsis, her tone changes. She becomes ingratiating, using formal language such as “O King.” The careful reader might notice this change and conclude that Medea is plotting something. Creon does not seem to notice the change.

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