Theme of Medea in Challenging Gender Norms and Societal Expectations

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Updated: Aug 14, 2023
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Traditional Gender Roles and Ancient Greek Society

The life of women is characterized by the roles that society and the eras of traditions that are forced on them. However, Medea represents that women have the power to defy those eras of tradition and society. Medea did not allow society to force her into the traditional role of being a woman. In ancient Greek society, women lived a life of limiting control with no political privileges like men. Ancient Greek women had a second-class citizen status.

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Medea’s Transformation and Defiance

At first, Medea was the loving housewife of her husband, Jason, however, after finding out that her husband Jason was going to abandon her and marry another woman. Medea slowly and gradually gathered up the courage to allow herself to defy the gender standards society has put in place. Jason did not see anything wrong with abandoning Medea and marrying the princess. Jason, in fact, even thought Medea would understand. Since men had far more supremacy over women back then, there was a higher expectation of women being sympathetic.

Theme of Medea: Challenging Gender Norms

Medea put across both feminine and masculine tendencies. Medea’s opinions about women are very different from society. Medea showed many qualities that tore down many of the typical views of ancient Greek women and women in general. Euripides shows Medea with traits that are generally connected with men in ancient Greek literature and culture. For example, having independence, willpower, and confidence. Medea also had courage, grit, and determination. Their courage, grit, and determination Medea caused people to fear her because those traits are usually viewed as masculine traits. Medea disconnected herself from being feminine and did acts that people did not think a woman could do. Medea showed that women are also able to do stuff that men can do. Characteristics generally linked to being womanly are the absence of leadership, softness, and weakness which was demonstrated by Jason.

Medea’s Legacy and Modern Perspectives

Medea was presented as the protagonist, unlike many old Greek literature. However, the restriction of control in today’s current society is different from the ancient Greek society. Their society still seems to have an expectation for women just to be a housewife and not pursue a career of their choice. Some people may perceive Medea as just being a crazy monstrous manipulative woman. But others perceived Medea to represent somebody who shows that it is okay to embody opposite gender traits. Medea represents progressiveness because she is a woman who challenges society’s expectations of how genders should act.

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Theme of Medea in Challenging Gender Norms and Societal Expectations. (2023, Aug 14). Retrieved from