Euripides brazenly outlines that the essence of his play, “Medea,” will revolve around the denigrating role of women in a patriarchal society. “Medea: Of all creatures that can feel and think, we women are the worst treated things alive. (31)” The playwright uses metaphor and symbolism to translate his message of egalitarianism through his work. Euripides very much defies the laws of conventionality to enlighten the audience with a willful and powerful woman who carries the depleting burden of prejudice exemplified through the everyday manacles of misoginism and chauvinism.
The play representing the cause of women in society illustrates that Medea is much more than a “wily woman” but a symbol of fear and admonition standing for a cause, the mistreatment of her kind. In the days of Medea’s initial release, in ancient Greece (and specifically Athens) women weren’t allowed to indulge in such a pleasurable distraction as plays were, but rather occupy themselves with the drudging mundane instead. Euripides preaches the irreverent role of women to an all male audience; he attempts to evangelize by giving a voice to the otherwise subjugated gender.
Euripides demonstrates the actuality that women should be as good as men, and goes so far as to predict a feministic uprising, “Chorus: One day the story will change: then shall the glory of women resound […] Reversing at last the sad reputation of ladies. (58)” The chorus, in the play, directly involves and exhibits the affairs of women in society as it candidly represents the cause of women by way of the Corinthian ladies.
The social hierarchy of ancient Greece places women one tier above slaves in order of respect, alienating and disregarding the value of women in return for maintaining tradition and suppression, “Medea: we [women] bid the highest price in dowries just to buy some man to be dictator of our bodies […] How that compounds the wrong! (31). ” Through this line the author illustrates that the cause of women was much less that of importance but much more currency, to be purchased and sold at the leisure of the male.
Euripides chooses to write in the character of Medea to headline the play, a character famous in Greek lore for her tremendous power, symbolising the metaphoric strength and vitality if a gender. Despite the fact that Medea was a character that practiced the supernatural, she symbolizes the torment of an entire gender. Medea despite her label as a witch still lives as a person representing the cause of women in the fearsome plight of man. Medea: I had rather stand my ground three times among the shields than face a childbirth once. (31)”
Medea regardless of her social stigma still has to endure the trials of a woman. In the quote she disgraces the one pure role of the archetypal female rejecting the sacredness of childbirth and in turn rejecting the standards required of women for a much more considered masculine activity as doing battle. Euripides was revolutionary in transcending the role of women in the play exploring their purpose and societies view. Chorus: If only Apollo, Prince of the lyric, had put in our hearts the invention Of music and songs for the lyre Wouldn’t I then have raised up a feminine paean To answer the epic of men? (58)” Euripides confronts the issue that the woman will never reach absolution in fiction as it is the man which creates their being. The chorus validates exactly how can women be truly represented if it is a male at the hand of their creation that the fictional Greek culture is in fact interiorly male orientated.
Euripides establishes that through Medea and the chorus they do represent just what is means to be a woman in a patriarchal society. “Medea: Of all things that have life and sense we women are the most hapless creatures; first must we buy a husband at a great price, and o’er ourselves a tyrant set which is an evil worse than the first; and herein lies the most important issue, whether our choice be good or bad. ”