Manipulation in Medea
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Medea’s Manipulation Many stories have underlying themes and morals, ancient Greek tragedies are no exception. Throughout Euripides?s play Medea, there is a common theme of manipulation. Medea manipulates everyone from the princess to her own children. She does this in order to reap revenge upon Jason, who was her husband but betrayed their marriage to marry the princess. Manipulation, as portrayed through Medea, can both aid and destroy a person’s morale.
First, Medea manipulates the chorus so that they do not tell the people of Corinth about her plan to murder her children and husband. Since the chorus is entirely female Medea shows them the many ways in which men mistreat women. She states: ?Of all the things that have life and sense we women are the most hapless creatures; first must we buy a husband at a great price, and o?re ourselves a tyrant set which is an evil worse than the first; and herein lies the most important issue, whether our choice be good or bad. For divorce is not honourable to women nor can we disown out lords. Next must the wife, coming as she does to ways and customs new, since she hath not learnt the lesson in her home, have a diviner?s eye to see how best to treat the partner of her life. If haply we perform these tasks with thoroughness and tact, and the husband live with us, without resenting the yoke, our life is a happy one; if not, ?twere best to die.
But when a man is vexed with what he finds indoors, he goeth forth and rids his soul of its disgust, betaking him to some friend or comrade of like age; whilst we must needs regard his single self. And yet they say we live secure at home, while they are at the wars, with their sorry reasoning, for I would gladly take my stand in battle array three times o?er, than once give birth.? (6) Medea is explaining to the chorus that men think they work so had in battle, but they do not realize what women go through. Men feel women should have no choices and no rights, but women, once they realize their shortcomings, feel different. After bringing to the attention of the chorus how under-appreciated women are, she goes on to speak of how her revenge against Jason would change the way men see women. When the chorus realizes how frequently men take advantage of women they agree not to tell anyone of Medea’s plans and even feel that her actions may change the way woman are perceived in Greek society.
The chorus says, ?Order and the universe are being reversed. ‘Tis men whose counsels are treacherous, whose oath by heaven is no longer sure. Rumour shall bring a change o’er my life, bringing it into good repute. Honour’s dawn is breaking for woman’s sex; no more shall the foul tongue of slander fix upon us.? (9) The chorus is announcing that they feel Medea’s revenge upon Jason will bring a change to the way women are treated. Apparently, by showing the chorus what men have been doing to women for years, Medea convinces the chorus into believing that her actions of revenge would show the entire male Greek society that women are no longer going to subside to ?male rules.? Once Medea encouraged the chorus not to tell anyone of her scheme to murder the princess and children she begins to manipulate Jason.
In order to seek revenge upon Jason, Medea must mislead him into believing that he is better and stronger than her. To make Jason feel like the bigger person Medea tells him, “I yield and do confess that I was wrong then, but now have I come to a better mind.”(20) Due to seemingly admitting that she was wrong Jason thinks he has taken control of the situation and he feels superior to the woman. Little does he know, Medea is only pretending to admit her wrongs. Shortly she will be murdering Jason’s new wife and his children just to get back at him for betraying her. Medea’s successful manipulation of Jason will lead to her triumphant search for revenge.
En route to the last stop in Medea’s journey for revenge she must manipulate her children so that they feel safe. After convincing Creon to allow her children to stay in Corinth she cries to them, “O my babes, my babes, ye still have a city [Corinth] and a home where far from me and my sad lot you will live your lives.”(23) By telling her children that they still have a home where they can live their lives Medea is blatantly lying to them because she has already decided to murder them. It takes a determined person to manipulate his or her own children, Medea is this person. Now, however, Medea must really put her plan into action.
Medea’s seach for revenge has almost come to a close, but first she needs to manipulate the princess. In order to murder Jason’s new wife, Medea must somehow get her to put on a poisonous robe and crown. The chorus knew what Medea was planning and sang, foreshadowing the princess’s death, “Its grace and sheen divine will tempt her to put on the robe and crown of gold, and in that act she will deck herself to be a bride amid the dead.”(22) Obviously Medea realized that the only way to murder the princess would be through manipulation. Therefore, Medea disguised her weapon of choice, poison, as a beautiful robe and crown so that the princess would contract the poison through her skin when she put the robe on, and as a result she would die. Medea’s plan to murder the princess through manipulation worked, and as an added bonus the king, Creon, hugged the dieing princess and consequently died himself.
Throughout Euripides?s play, Medea makes sure to manipulate the people that could potentially foil her ploy. First she ensures that the chorus does not tell anyone that she plans of murdering her husband and children. Then she convinces Jason that she is remorseful for being so mad about his betrayal. Third, Medea comforts her children, telling them that they will be safe in Corinth. Finally, Medea sends her “gifts” to the palace and consequently kills both the princess and the king. Soon after the death of the princess and king Jason goes seaching for Medea. Once he finds her, she has just committed the murder of their children. As Medea had planned, Jason is heartbroken and she is satisfied as she flies off to a safe haven in Athens. Medea’s cycle of manipulation from chorus to husband to children to princess has resulted in her successful search for revenge against Jason.