When it comes to virtues and values, each and every one of us is acquainted with a fair share of the same. The laws of right and wrong are instilled in us as young as 5 years or even younger. We can tell what is right and what is wrong without even being told so. This is because our very own intuitions and human nature is able to distinguish the two distinctly without having to second guess our actions and the motives behind them. Safe to say, no one just acts in a manner out of ignorance or without motive. We are quite certain and conversant with the saying that choices/actions have consequences. For one to be termed as a man of value, it is not something that happens overnight. Rather, it is a collection of many little things that you do or say that determines your character. That explains the saying, character is who you are when no one is watching.
When it comes to societal values, there are virtues that highly regarded and appreciated by everyone. Just the same way there are vices and actions condemned vehemently by the society and ten times out of ten, many people tend to avoid such. In the play Medea by Euripdes, there are a couple of societal values and themes that are emphasized on. Euripdes used the play Medea to reflect a clear picture of what was going on in the society and emphasize on certain themes that were either being overlooked upon or not given the attention they required. These themes include sexism and the essence of keeping your word (trust and faithfulness).
This paper is going to expound more on societal values, sexism and the consequences affiliated with breaking your word as shown in the context of Euripdes play, Medea.
This play was written in a time when gender equality was not appreciated. By definition, sexism is the act of being prejudice or discriminative against women on the basis of sex. It is a common misconception that women are to be seen and not be heard. Worse still, you will find some sexist shamelessly say that a womans place is in the kitchen. What they tend to forget is that a woman is equally able and capable of achieving literally anything that a man can. It is all psychological and if you can believe and perceive it, then definitely you can achieve it regardless of your sex. The second theme that is illustrated in this play is the essence of trust and keeping your word. Trust forms the backbone of many relationships. As a fact, it is more binding and long lasting than love. This explains why it is easier to love the one trust than it is to trust the one you love. Without trust, love is just another word in the dictionary (Euripides and Page).
In this play, we see the act of Jason betraying the love and trust that Medea had in him. Instead of being faithful to his wife Medea, he left her for a new wife. Marriage is a sacred bond that is shared by two consenting people and it is crowned by love and trust. Moreover, even the good book views marriage as holy and one that ought to be respected. Needless to say, there are certain societal values that go hand-in-hand with this holy bond shared between two. It is something that people get into willingly as the ultimate sign of surrender to the other and the epitome of love. Therefore, it is important to stay faithful and keep your vows to your spouse as promised. However, this is not the case in the play. We see Jason leaving his matrimonial wife, Medea, for a new wife. This illustrated unfaithfulness and lack of contentment by Jason. Jason also illustrated greed which is a social vice by desiring and coveting that which was not his at the expense of hurting his very own wife (Beale).
The theme of sexism comes to play where Jason did not bother to console Medea about the new wife. Thus, we see Medeas position in the Greeks world as a queen compromised. Medea takes it upon her to fight and prove her position in a male-dominated society. She was so infuriated by the actions of her husband that it led her into making rush decisions, ones that can be best described inhuman such as killing Jasons new wife as well as her children. The determination in Medea to suppress sexism was so great that she ended up letting her desire for vengeance against her unfaithful husband take the best of her. Unapologetically, Jason justifies his actions by saying that he wasnt willing to let the opportunity to marry a princess pass him by just because he had a wife, Medea, who according to him was just another Barbarian woman. That in itself is enough to tell us that Jason was a sexist and his views were so superficial especially for a man in his position (Robinson).
Although they say that the end justifies the means, Medeas action cannot be completely justified but she sure did play a key role in the fight against sexism in a male dominated era and society. She also enhanced a platform of feminism and gender equality which are relevant to the present day.
Beale, Alan. Euripides talks . London: Bristol Classical Press, 2008.
Euripides and Denys L Page. Medea. Oxford Claredon, 1964.
Robinson, Charles Alexander. An anthology of Greek drama. New York: Rinehart, 1949.
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