Medea

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The Poisoned Crown Symbol Analysis

The Poisoned Crown Symbol Icon
A crown is a metonym (a kind of metaphor) for rulership. Medea chooses to exact her revenge on Creon and the Princess with a poisoned crown, a crown that represents Creon and Jason's having polluted the royal line with unjust rulership. Creon has earned his death and the loss of his authority by punishing the innocent Medea, who he himself has wronged by encouraging Medea's husband to abandon her and marry Creon's own daughter. Jason has earned his grief by violating his marriage oaths and abandoning his wife and children for the promise of future ruling power.

The Poisoned Crown Quotes in Medea

The Medea quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Poisoned Crown. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Exile Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Cambridge University Press edition of Medea published in 1999.
Lines 301-400 Quotes

The direct way is best, the one at which
I am most skilled: I'll poison them.

Related Characters: Medea (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Poisoned Crown
Page Number: 372-373
Explanation and Analysis:

Medea here gets the idea to kill Jason's new wife using poison. Interestingly, Medea claims that poison is the appropriate weapon to use to enact her revenge--it's the weapon that she's most adept at using.

Poison isn't just Medea's favorite weapon--it's the weapon that mirrors her personality most closely (and is often portrayed as a "female" way of killing someone). Poison must be used skillfully and subtly, and if she's smart, a murderer can use poison to avoid detection altogether. Furthermore, poisoning is often a slow, painful way to die--a reminder of Medea's wrath and cruelty. Finally, poison is a pretty accurate symbol for Medea's own fury. Like a poison victim, Medea suffers from a constant, burning rage: a rage that causes pain both to the people around her and to Medea herself.

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Lines 901-1000 Quotes

I'll send her gifts, the finest in the world:
A finely woven dress and crown of beaten gold.
The boys will take them.

Related Characters: Medea (speaker), The Children, The Princess
Related Symbols: The Poisoned Crown
Page Number: 916-918
Explanation and Analysis:

Even while she's still speaking to Jason, Medea begins to plan her revenge. She decides to send the Princess (Jason's new wife) a beautiful set of gifts, including a dress and a crown, delivered by her own children--presumably so that the gifts will seem innocent, and the Princess will accept them. But the crown, little does the Princess (or Jason) know, will be enchanted to burst into flames as soon as the Princess puts it on her head, and the dress will likewise be poisoned.

In all, the passage is interesting because it shows that Medea is aware that her revenge on Jason will hurt other people who aren't necessarily guilty at all. Indeed, Medea has already planned to kill pretty much everyone except Jason--the best revenge, she seems to feel, is for him to survive amidst devastation, rather than to enjoy the "peace" of death. In her excessive fury and longing to get revenge on Jason, Medea is going to kill innocent people. Medea's fury is like a fire--once it breaks out, it's impossible to control or focus.

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The Poisoned Crown Symbol Timeline in Medea

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Poisoned Crown appears in Medea. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 701-800
Truth vs. Rhetoric Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
...the Princess by sending them to her with poisoned gifts, a dress and a golden crown. (full context)
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
If the Princess takes the dress and crown and lets them touch her skin, Medea says, the Princess will die horribly—so will anyone... (full context)
Lines 901-1000
Exile Theme Icon
The Roles of Men and Women Theme Icon
...she will help Jason win her over by sending along gifts—a finely woven dress and crown of beaten gold—and suggests that the boys carry them. (full context)
Truth vs. Rhetoric Theme Icon
...to the happy, royal bride. Jason calls Medea foolish for parting with the dress and crown, saying the castle isn't short on such objects. His new wife, he says, will care... (full context)
Lines 1001-1100
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
...murder the children. She knows, she says, that the Princess is dying with the poisoned crown on her head and she can't leave her work half finished. She justifies the horror... (full context)
Lines 1101-1200
Exile Theme Icon
The Roles of Men and Women Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
...Jason left the room and she put on the embroidered, poisoned gown and the poisoned crown and arranged her hair in the mirror. Then she stepped daintily around the room on... (full context)
The Roles of Men and Women Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
...palace. The Princess said nothing for some time then gave a frightful scream. The gold crown gave off a stream of all-consuming fire and the dress devoured her flesh. She jumped... (full context)
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
The Princess, the Messenger says, could not get the crown off. She fell and gruesomely died. The servants, having seen her death, were afraid to... (full context)