Condemning Medea

Medea is an impeccable example of a woman being controlled by the ravaging effects of love. Unfortunately, those effects lead Medea to commit a serious transgression: murder. She takes the life of not only a king and his daughter, but also of two of her own children. Although the king’s death was more of an adverse consequence than a direct murder, Medea planned all of their deaths down to the last detail. The prosecution charges her with four counts of premeditated murder. The prosecution would like to take into account the evidence provided by three witnesses: Medea’s nurse, Jason, and Medea herself.

Medea’s nurse observes Medea’s transformation from a jilted lover to an enraged murderer from the beginning. At one point the nurse says, “She’ll not stop raging until she has struck at someone” (4). She realizes Medea’s extreme emotional turmoil but can do nothing to soothe her. The nurse can provide a firsthand account of Medea’s slow descent into moral destitution. She sees how upset and angry Medea is at Jason but unfortunately does not realize the severity of the situation until it’s too late. The nurse is with Medea when she makes the decision to murder King Creon, his daughter, and her own children.

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Medea confided in the nurse saying, “You I employ on all affairs of greatest trust” (27). Medea’s nurse knows of everything that Medea has decided to do and is acutely aware of Medea’s motives and premeditated actions. In addition to the nurse as a witness, Jason also has something to contribute to Medea’s prosecution. Jason is the prime incendiary of the situation, the catalyst that sets into motion the events that would result in the deaths of four innocent people. He is the main cause of Medea’s rage, so naturally he can testify to Medea’s radical reaction to a commonplace event: him leaving her.

When Medea accuses Jason of being a coward for marrying behind her back, he points out that “[even] if [he] had told [her] of it, [she still would be] incapable of controlling [her] bitter temper” (19). Jason is not intending to act maliciously towards Medea by marrying the princess; he only wants to take care of his family. Medea completely overreacts to Jason’s decision even though he was acting in her best interest. He tells her, “…show more sense. Do not consider painful what is good for you, nor, when you are lucky, think yourself unfortunate” (9).

Jason is simply attempting to advance his position in society and to provide a better life for his children and Medea. Medea is unable to comprehend his motives because she is so consumed with envy and rage that she is incapable of seeing reason. Medea unquestionably provides the strongest testimony against herself. Throughout the entire course of events, Medea is conscious and completely aware of her actions. She remains lucid for the duration of the play, not once expressing any characteristics of insanity. Perhaps the most disturbing thing about Medea is her total lack of remorse or doubt.

She doesn’t think twice about killing Creon and his daughter and barely hesitates when faced with murdering her children. Medea basically reacts to Jason’s marriage to the princess as spoiled children react when they aren’t given precisely what they want at the moment they demand it. She cries and throws a fit and exacts revenge on those who oppose her. When Jason discovers the death of his two children, Medea smugly flaunts their murder in his face telling him that “…[her] grief is gain when [he] cannot mock it” (44). Medea is cunning and smart in her actions, meticulously planning everything from the start.

Her actions are fueled by rage, hatred and envy, and she is completely and thoroughly aware of what she is doing. Medea’s nurse, Jason and Medea herself all provide evidence that attests to the decision that Medea should be condemned. She murders four people who intend her no harm out of sheer jealousy. Medea is a sane, childish woman who took the lives of a king, a princess, and her own two children simply because the man she loves chooses another woman. She kills them for no other reason than the fact that she was jealous, and envy alone is never a reason to kill someone.