Gender in Medea

Length: 5 Pages 1224 Words

Discuss the ways one or more texts explore the politics of gender The dramatic text Medea allows an exploration into the politics of gender within patriarchal Ancient Greek society. Medea who is the protagonist of the dramatic play, challenges and confronts the existing power relationship, gender constructions and patriarchal ideologies within ancient Greek society. In doing so she is able to steadily empower herself and shift gender constructions through using traditional patriarchal construction of her femininity, appropriating masculine strategies and striking at symbols of patriarchal power. Medea, the female protagonist is able to challenge the existing dominant patriarchal society of ancient Greece by using the traditional patriarchal society of ancient Greece by using the traditional patriarchal construction of her femininity as a strategy to turn against men and manipulate them therefore, enabling to empower her own self, by her manipulation of certain situations. This is first exemplified in her encounter with Kreon, King of Corinth. Initially in the play, Kreon assumes a traditional masculine dominant stance over Medea, characterized by his dominant modes of behaviour and language. Kreon who is a representatio Continue...

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This shift in gender constructions emerges particularly at the end of the play, and gives evidence the gender issues are never simple, and that individuals may empower themselves by shifting 'norm' gender constructions. Such signifiers of inferiority and female subservience seek to empower Medea within the boundaries of the construction of her gender. This reaches a climax in the final spine-chilling scene of the play, where Medea appears physically and emotionally dominant over Jason. Stage high above him in a chariot guarded by her grandfather the sun Helios, Medea denies Jason a second request, the right to bury his sons. By reverting to the patriarchal construction of femininity and adopting a traditional feminine discourse, Medea appeals to Kreon's vanity and masculine generosity, by acknowledging his dominant stance over her, "What you fear me, a man a King - what harm could I do you. Medea is also able to exert power over the manhood of Aigeus whom she manipulates in order to seek power and achieve security. Aigeus who is a male is also able to exert his own power in that her offers Medea a future and alters its mood to one of triumph. She appears to dominate him emotionally and is successful in killing all symbols of patriarchal power and lineage. The short, curt last words of the play also reflect this, " No request denied, and also shows the shift in power among the characters. Medea therefore is able to explore the politics of her own gender and purposely place Kreon in a dominant position, which makes him feel as though he has control over the situation due to his power as a male. Therefore by exploring the role of gender, Medea is able to steadily empower herself by her careful manipulation of Aigeus' desires for power and male children. Kreon attempts to assume a dominant stance and position over Medea by his ability to control her life and destiny. Such actions are a reflection of the traditional patriarchal construction of femininity within ancient Greek society, and she further on employs modes of behaviour and language, which also conform and are a representation of this feminine stereotype. Thus Medea is able to challenge our conceptions of the role of gender and the representations of females as mothers and also as betrayers.


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