Offstage, Medea tells her sons that she is hated and that she wishes them dead because of their father's reprehensible behavior. On stage, the Nurse questions what the children have to do with their father's deeds. She reiterates that she's afraid for them and says its better to grow old in modest ways than to be forced through extremes as Medea has. The middle course, the Nurse comments, is best. The Chorus of Corinthian women enters, and speaks for the first time, saying it heard Medea crying.
Medea's eventual murder of her children is here further, almost shockingly, foreshadowed. The Nurse pleads to no one that the children are innocent and don't deserve their fate. Greatness, according to the nurse, isn't worth the pain it comes with. The Chorus overhearing Medea wailing is significant in that it shows her pain and travails are well known, the subject of public speculations about how she will respond to injustice.
The Chorus asks the Nurse to tell them what's going on. The Nurse responds that Medea and Jason's family is finished and recounts Medea's grief and Jason's infidelity. Medea wails from off stage that she wants to end her life. The Chorus comments that Medea shouldn't pray for death because she will, in the end, die anyway. It adds that she should not to waste away like this, mourning a lost lover.
The plot and predicament are reiterated which helps to keep the audience grounded despite the extensive backstory and general complexity of the history of the story. The Chorus can be thought of as a kind of audience within the play. It reacts to the developments as the playwright expected his Athenian audience to react.
Meanwhile, Medea once more calls out from off stage, asks the goddesses Themis and Artemis to witness how Jason has broken the oaths he made to her. She once more cries for her lost homeland and says she wants Jason and his new bride crushed—their whole house destroyed—for the wrongs they've committed against her.
Medea asks the gods to witness Jason's injustice—she sees what he has done as breaking a divine order, and herself as not just angry for being treated poorly but as righteously angry, defending herself and moral rightness before the gods. Our sense of his injustice to Medea is enhanced by Medea's desolation in exile. Medea openly admits that she wants to take justice into her own hands, and the punishment she wants to enact is extreme. She doesn't just want to hurt him as he hurt her. She wants to crush him, to annihilate him and everything he has. Her anger is extreme and all-consuming.
The Nurse asks if the Chorus hears the way Medea calls out to the gods, and says that she's certain to do something serious before her rage dissipates. The Chorus wishes it could see Medea face to face and reason with her. It asks the Nurse to go get her. She says she will get Medea, but that there's no reasoning with her.
The Nurse and Chorus's discussion continue to build the suspense leading up to Medea's challenging Natural Law by murdering her own children. The suspense—with Medea wailing in grief and rage offstage—has built to the point where the Chorus members, standing in for the audience, demand to see Medea with their own eyes.
The Nurse adds that men got things wrong by writing songs for festivals and feasts but not writing songs that can get rid of a person's grief. Why sing at a feast, she asks, if a feast is already pleasurable? She goes to get Medea.
The Nurse questions the way society responds to emotion with songs, implying the response fails us. And the Nurse's question raises a deeper question: if something so seemingly simple could be contradictory, might other aspects of society go against Nature?