Medea Chorus Analysis

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The chorus within the context of Greek drama is a vital element to any production as it provides information and emphasis for the audience of the play, making it easier to better understand the plot and the intentions of the main characters. The identity of the chorus is specific to each play as the class, gender, and race, differs depending on the context of the drama. The chorus of Aeschylus’ Persians is a group of Persian elders, while the chorus of Euripides’ Medea is a group of Corinthian women. Despite the differences among the two groups of the chorus, their functions and responsibilities within the context of the play are the same. Even though the chorus is a group of people in both Aeschlyus’ Persians and Euripides’ Medea, they …show more content…
The tone of their speeches change as Medea’s character shifts. At the beginning of the play, the chorus pleads with Medea to “drop her anger, / unburden her burning spirit, / let go of [the] weight of madness” (Eur. Med. 177-179). The tone is serious, but the weightiness comes from the concern of the chorus for Medea’s safety as they claim they will stand by their friendship with Medea (Eur. Med. 180). The Corinthian women sympathize with Medea’s situation and even claim that her hunger for revenge is justified (Eur. Med. 272). Through the chorus’ understanding, the audience feels compelled to pity Medea and better understand her grief. The chorus comments on Medea’s cries of pain (Eur. Med. 205) and her sufferings at her husband’s betrayal. However, the tone of the play quickly changes from sympathetic to frantically desperate as the chorus better understands Medea’s intentions regarding the fate of her children. The chorus quickly states that they do not support her plan to kill her children by stating “I support / the laws of mankind, I ask you not to do this” (Eur. Med. 835-836). As Medea convinces herself that killing the children is the only true revenge, the chorus gets worried that she will follow through with the horrible act and they cry “we beg you, with every plea / we can plead: do not kill your children” (Eur. Med. …show more content…
Medea’s history of being aggressive and vengeful is evident through her violent and murderous past since she killed her own brother, but the chorus seems to validate Medea’s anger by statements such as “[Jason has] been unjust” (Eur. Med. 598) and “You’re justified, Medea, / in paying your husband back” (Eur. Med. 272-273). With this validation, Medea’s revenge starts to form, and she reaches the ultimate conclusion that killing her children is the only way to truly punish Jason. Even when the chorus begs her to create a new plan of revenge, Medea quotes “There is no other way. It’s understandable / that you would [beg] – you’re not the one who’s suffered” (Eur. Med. 837-838). The female perspective is imperative since Medea confides her plans to the chorus before she follows through with them; she even addresses the chorus as “my friends” (Eur. Med. 787). The connection Medea creates with the chorus creates a foundation for the tragedy in the play as she requests that “if [she] should find some way… to pay [her] husband back, bring him to justice, [the chorus must] keep silent” (Eur. Med. 265-267); to this request, the chorus replies “I’ll do as you ask” (Eur. Med. 272). With this promise in mind, the chorus does not reveal Medea’s plan to kill Jason’s new bride or his children; nor does the chorus act to protect the children when Medea commits to killing them. Instead, they stand

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