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Human Passion - a Driving Yet Destructive Force

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Human Passion - a Driving Yet Destructive Force

Human Passion; A Driving yet Destructive Force

Life without passion is equivalent to a dry piece of toast. Although still edible, toast requires elements such as butter and marmalade to make it tasteful and therefore enjoyable. Likewise, life without passion is still livable; yet it is neither as enjoyable nor as fulfilling. Passion is usually considered to be an invigorating and desirable trait; however, when uncontrolled it can also serve as a dangerous and destructive mechanism to mankind. It can lead to hardships or devastation for oneself and for others. Literature is made appealing to audiences by capturing this distinct essence of passion in its characters. Medea, Beowulf, and The Once and Future King, are all works of literature that encompass characters who allow their human passions to stream out of control, causing the eventual ruin of one or more individuals.

The ancient Greek play “Medea” is a most fitting example of uncontrolled passion and the dire effects that can result from it. Medea is a character that exemplifies a vast amount of passion throughout the text and whose impulsive violence causes the suffrage of her self and others. The driving force of Medea’s unruly actions stems from her passion for Jason and the overwhelming desire for revenge once he betrays her.

First, Medea’s immense passion for Jason causes her to lose her sense of self, betray her family, and harm Pelias. After having fallen deeply in love with the Greek prince Jason, Medea stops at nothing to help and please him; as she hopes to obtain his love and affection in the process. In the opening scene, Medea’s nurse proclaims, “How I wish the Argo never had reached the land of Colchis, for then my mistress Medea would not have sailed for the land of Iolcus, her heart on fire with passionate love for Jason…And she helped him in every way…this indeed the greatest salvation of all” (Euripides 1). The nurse states that it would have been better if Jason had never entered Medea’s life because the passion she developed for him dictated her decisions and brought destruction to her old life. She betrayed her country in order to help this foreigner obtain the Golden Fleece for Pelias and lost her sense of self; she devoted all her time and energy into satisfying him and abandoned the life she once had as princess of Colchis.

Medea later recalls, “Oh my country, oh my father! In what dishonor I left you…I am deserted, a refugee, though nothing of by my husband-something he won in a foreign land”(1). Medea has recognized the hardship she now faces, since Jason has abandoned her, is much greater because she no longer has her country nor her family to support her. Not only did Medea betray her country by helping Jason, a foreigner, but killed her own brother in doing so. Medea reminds Jason, “ I saved your life…I killed my brother and so gave you the safety of the light. And I myself betrayed my father and my home”(16). In order to protect Jason from her fathers encroaching fleet, Medea acted on her impassioned impulse and murdered her younger brother. She scattered the pieces of him in the water with intention to delay her father, therefore allowing Jason to escape safely.

Moreover, Medea’s love for Jason drives her to harm Pelias. Pelias has not wronged Medea personally, but he has treated Jason poorly so Medea takes it upon herself to bring him to ultimate destruction. As she recounts to Jason, “Showing more willingness than wisdom, I killed him, Pelias, with a most dreadful death at his own daughter’s hands, and took away your fear”(16). Again Medea has brought devastation to another because of her insuppressible passion to comfort the man she loves. She lost her autonomy by devoting herself entirely to helping Jason, and her happiness came to depend on him, which made it all the more devastating when he left her.

Furthermore, when Jason deserts Medea for the princess of Corinth, her desire for revenge surmounts any love she has for him. As Medea herself proclaims, “ A woman is full of fear, defenseless…but once she is wronged in the matter of love, no other soul can hold so many thoughts of blood”(9). Her once passion to please Jason quickly explodes into the passion to destroy Jason, and those closest to him. She promises in the beginning of the play to ““find the means or devise any scheme to pay my husband back for what he has done to me- Him and his father-in-law and the girl who married him…”(9). Therefore, she utilizes a vengeful scheme to kill the King and princess of Corinth even kill her own children; all to cause a vast amount of pain to Jason.

The Chorus states to Medea when trying to make her rationalize her plans for murder. “You who will murder your own, in vengeance for the loss of married love which Jason has betrayed’ (32).

As Medea confesses

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