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A Challenge to Male-Dominated Culture

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A Challenge to Male-Dominated Culture

----Analysis of Medea from the Perspective of Culture

abstract: Medea is a famous tragedy written by Euripides. In it, the protagonist Medea is a rebel against the male-dominated culture. She commits horrible crimes which are severely criticized by many critics. However, seen from cultural point of view, it has its positive side, her rebellious behaviour is a great challenge to male-dominated culture. This paper intends to explore it from the perspective of three social roles Medea plays.

Key words: Medea challenge male-dominated culture

Medea is a famous tragedy written by Euripides, the great Greek dramatist. It is a masterly study of an intense womanЎЇs passion. In it, immoderate love has given way to immoderate hate and lust for vengeance

now overcomes love of children. Although she has often been fiercely attacked becaused of her cruelness, Medea embodies a great challenge to Male-dominated culture. This paper intends to explore it in terms of the three social roles Medea plays.

As a woman

As a woman, Medea fully presents us a heroic woman who breaks down all the bondages in pursuit of love. She has achieved a kind of absolute freedom----to love and to hate----and thus challenging the traditional value of womanЎЇs right of love in male-dominated culture.

Medea was of a people at the far edge of the Black Sea; for the Greeks of EuripidesЎЇ time, this was the edge of the known world. She was the princess of Colchis and a granddaughter of the sun god Helias. At the same time, she was also a barbarian witch. On the other hand, Jason, a great Greek hero and capitain of the Argonauts, led his crew to Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece. At the sight of Jason, Medea fell in deep love with him. Passion and love motivated Medea to help Jason: she helped him yoke the fire-breathing bulls, she was the one who slew the giant serpent that guarded the Golden Fleece, and she killed Pelias. All was to protect Jason. And as she claimed in the play, Ў°I saved your life, as all know who embarked with you on the Argo, when you were sent to master with the yoke the fire-breathing bulls and to sow with dragonЎЇs teeth that acre of death. I slew the dragon and raided for you the light of life again. I have removed every danger from your path.Ў±(43) Therefore, Medea had sacrificed everything for her love: She deceived her father, left her homeland, killed her brother and betrayed her own country.

However, when Medea learned of JasonЎЇs treachery, her passionate love turned into horrible hate. The Nurse confides to the audience that Ў°Love is disseasedЎ±(16) and the Chorus delivers an ode on the dangers and benefits of love: love brings great rewards, but immoderate love brings suffering; the incredible force of MedeaЎЇs passion, infected by JasonЎЇs betrayal, will now become destructive, and we can seen it from MedeaЎЇs speech: Ў°I shall not shirk the difficult adventure. Never shall any one of them torture my heart with impunity. I shall make their marriage a torment and grief to them.Ў±(41)

In this sense, Medea was an absolutely freedom fighter, both mentally and physically. She posed great challenge to the male-dominated culture in which womenЎЇs right of love is highly limited let alone the right of hate.

As a wife

As a wife, Medea is distinguished from other Greek women. She is fully aware of the unfair marriage system and questiones the fundamentals of such culture. MedeaЎЇs rebuke on Jason after being betrayed and her determination to seek revenge on JasonЎЇs new bride better serve as great challenges to male-dominated culture.

On one hand, the distinction of family roles between a husband and a wife is quite striking in ancient Greek time. While a husband has all rights to live the sort of life he wants and asks for (sometimes urges) the obedience

of his wife, the wife must consent. Though men are free to indulge their appetites and enjoy the company of their friends, women must remain in the house and live for their husbands alone. Men must bear arms, but women must bear children. As for a wife, the husband constitutes the whole world of her life. No social life no friends. Even in such condition, a husband is apt to divorce at the dissatisfaction of his former wife, whereas a wife is not justified to divorce with the man she did not love for separation

brings disgrace on the wife. As a result, what most Greek wives can do with the injust family system is just to take everything for granted. That leads to the most striking difference between Medea and other Greek wives. Unlike them, she is fully aware of the unfair treatment by her husband as is well

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