What Role Does Hecuba Play In Medea

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The play of Medea tells the story of a woman who feels she has been wronged by her husband. The jealousy that ensues ultimately eats at Medea until it has completely consumed her. At first she encourages feelings of sympathy in readers because she is placed in a rather adverse situation after confronting Creon and her husband aggressively. One could say that she is initially relatable. Soon thereafter she becomes very devious and cold-hearted. She begins sinking to an even more disgraceful level than her husband was in his act of sleeping with and marrying another woman. She was at a point where she felt there was nothing more that could be lost and her jealousy blinded her. Medea’s rage sent her into a place where she no longer acknowledged…show more content…
The play of Hecuba is set in the time soon after the end of the Trojan War. Hecuba used to be the Queen of Troy, but is now a slave. As a result of the war ending, Polyxena (Hecuba’s daughter) is taken as a sacrificial tribute and killed at the tomb of Achilles. This is done to create wind so the Greeks can part their ships. This is an event that is similar to the sacrifice of Agamemnon’s daughter, Iphigenia, in order to create wind to sail to war in the play “Agamemnon.” Her son (Polydorus) is also murdered in the play by someone who she thought was close to their family. “Then help me take revenge on the most false and perjured friend, who without fear of powers below or powers above had done a deed of blackest treachery! Many times he was my guest, sat at my table, was among my closest friends, was treated with all honour. Then he lays a plot, and murders.” (Lines 789-795, Hecabe) This sets Hecuba on a path for revenge on Polymestor. She talks about Polymestor killing her son: “I saw a dappled fawn cruelly dragged from the protection of my lap, and torn by a wolf’s fangs, and slaughtered.” (Lines 91-93, Hecabe) Polydorus had been safe with his treasure through the length of the war, but was killed for his gold once the war had ended. His body was discarded in the sea, which is why his ghost appeared at the beginning of the play to explain what had occurred. Hecuba was not made aware of this until after the death of her…show more content…
It seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel in this plot. A common factor is the powerful roles which Euripides is putting the women of the plays in. In a way it is signifying the status of females of the time. “Surely, of all creatures that have life and will, we women are the most wretched.” (Lines 229-230, Medea) Many quotes display what may have been thought of women, but I think Euripides does this to make the transition of women into power even more obvious when they take revenge in the plays. The Chorus states at one point, “A time comes when the female sex is honoured.” (Line 419, Medea) The marginalized classes of society that would have otherwise been ignored are being presented to the Athenian male audience in this play. However, many viewers may have felt that Euripides presented women in an unfavorable way by doing this. Euripides placing women at center stage might have been considered abrasive, especially to see them dominating over male characters. His plays were purposefully provocative. This could be the reason many of his plays were unpopular in comparison to Aeschylus or Sophocles at the time, yet this may also be why his writing is so much more popular in modern

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