Medea

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Themes and Colors
Exile Theme Icon
Truth vs. Rhetoric Theme Icon
The Roles of Men and Women Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Medea, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

In Euripides' Medea, exile is a past reality, an impending threat, and an internal state. Medea and Jason are exiles before the action of Euripides' play begins. In the play's backstory, Medea was forced to flee from her homeland of Clochis for helping Jason to secure the Golden Fleece. Then Jason and she together were exiled as murderers from Jason's homeland of Iolcus because of Medea's attempt to wrest ruling power for her and…

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The tragedy of Medea is woven out of a series of deceitful, true-seeming monologues. After acknowledging to the chorus (and the audience) her desire to kill Creon and destroy his house, Medea convinces him that she should be allowed to remain for just one day to make provisions for her children. Medea actually plans to kill her children, so the statement is ironic. Even if the audience didn't know this at the outset of…

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The events of Medea take place in a male-dominated society, a society that allows Jason and Creon to casually and brutally shunt Medea aside. The play is an exploration of the roles of men and women, both actual and ideal, but it is not necessarily an argument for sexual equality. Creon and Jason find Medea's cleverness more dangerous and frightening because she is woman. "A sharp tempered woman…" Creon says, "Is easier to deal…

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Natural Law—the idea of a moral code integral to and inseparable from whatever it is that makes us human—is tested in the events of Medea when characters make decisions contrary to their nature, when Jason, a husband, abandons his wife or when Medea, a mother, murders her children. Medea's decision to kill her children, even as a form of retribution, was as shocking to the ancient Athenians as it is to us…

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The fundamental conflict between Medea and Jason is that she believes she has been faithfully devoted to him while he has not fulfilled his duties as a husband or as a man. "Why is there no mark on men's bodies," Medea says, "By which we could know the true ones from the false ones?" But Jason isn't the only one with duties— the servants have a duty to their masters, Creon is obliged to faithfully…

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