Is Medea a Tragic Hero?
Medea should be considered a tragic hero. Medea is a Princess so she has a noble birth. Medea has an admirable character because she loves her children and Jason. Jason cheating on her brings about her peripeteia. Her hamartia is that she loves Jason to passionately. Medea’s anagnorsis is before she kills her children. Medea realizes that what she is doing is wrong, but her tragic flaw overcomes her, so she needs to act upon it.
Medea is admirable because she is a strong, loving woman. Medea loves her children, and Jason more than anything in the world. “ I poisoned the great serpent and got you the Golden Fleece and fled with you, and killed my brother.” (Medea, Act I, lines to 293-4). Medea helped Jason claim his inheritance and throne by retrieving the Golden Fleece. She is willing to do anything to make Jason happy. Jason leaves her for another woman anyway.
Jason abandoning her and the children brings about Medea’s peripeteia, or reversal of fortune. Jason is selfish, and wants to raise his social standing. He marries the King’s beautiful young daughter, and allows the King to banish Medea. Medea has done so much for Jason, and his betrayal destroys her.
Medea’s hamartia, or flaw, is that she is willing to do anything to get her revenge on Jason. Medea is so blinded by hate and rage that she kills Jason’s new wife, the King and both of her own children. Medea says “ I have done it: because I loathed you more than I loved them. Mine is the triumph.” (Medea, Act II lines 326-327).
Medea’s anagnorsis is when she realizes the truth of her tragic situation. Medea started her life as a strong, powerful woman. She was struck by Cupid's bow so she had no choice but to fall in love with Jason. She lost control of her life because of her great love for Jason. Medea's moods are all over the place sounding hopeless at first, “The people of my race are somewhat rash and intemperate. As for me, I want simply to die.” (Medea, Act I, Lines 116-7). Later in the play Medea shows how shrewd she really is when she says, “But you know all that. And besides we are women most helpless for the good, but skilled craftsmen of all that is evil.” (Medea, Act I Lines 407-9). She had a sudden, powerful recognition once Jason abandoned her that her love for him was far deeper than his love for her. The gods are on Medea's side because they sent her a chariot pulled by dragons to allow her to escape.
The definition of the tragedy is a drama that illustrates the sudden and catastrophic fall of a great person from fortune to misfortune. In many ways, Medea does contribute to this idea of the person that falls from fortune to misfortune. Medea is a Princess of Colchis. She helps Jason through difficult trials because she believes her heart is on fire with passionate love for him. The story is a tragedy because it produces catharsis from the audience towards marriage, the female position in Greek society and towards the treatment of foreigners in Greek society. Medea complains loudly about her relationship with Jason and her treatment as a foreigner to produce catharsis from the audience. Her tragic flaw, a characteristic in most Greek tragedies, is her passionate love for Jason. Like many tragic heroes, Medea is not completely good or evil. From a male perspective Medea's actions of killing her children would make Medea evil. From a female perspective Medea is neither responsible or at fault for killing her children. The larger question is about Medea achieving agnorsis. Medea meets the majority of the requirements to be a tragic hero even though she never dies or gains a deep knowledge from the events that happen to her. Some people argue that Medea is not a tragic hero because she killed her own children. Medea has all five qualities of a tragic hero. The audience of this play has an emotional response bringing about their katharsis. Medea was a strong woman before she met Jason. The gods saved her by allowing her escape so Medea can be a strong character again in her new home, Athens.