However, Medea also carries out rebellious acts which set her against the society of ancient Greece. Medea has committed a great number of rebellious acts. These range from Medea killing her brother so as to allow Jason and the Argonauts to escape Colchis, to helping Pelias’ daughters kill him when the Argonauts reach Pelias’ lands. This shows that even before the play has begun Medea is no stranger to crimes and rebelling against the unwritten laws and stereotypes. The play begins from the moment Medea has found out about Jason’s infidelity.
We find Medea almost in a trance, so astounded by her husband’s betrayal that she “speaks to herself alone, and wails aloud for her dear father, her own land and home, which she betrayed and left, to come here with this man who now spurns and insults her. “11 Furthermore, Medea’s revenge on Jason is shown during the play, with Medea sending a poisoned dress to Glauce, killing her and her father who tried to save her. She also murders her two sons, knowing that any son is a father’s pride, and succeeds in depriving Jason of his loved one, his sons and any claim he had to the throne of Corinth.
She adds insult to injury when she denies Jason his right to bury his children when he asks this of her. 12 These acts appear nothing less than cruel and brutal, and are certainly rebellious acts. Jason condemns Medea for murdering their children “out of mere sexual jealousy. “13 Jason’s accusations appear more logical to us in the contexts of today’s society, and Medea appears to be a cold-blooded murderer as well as a rebel. However, an interesting concept emerges here.
Medea, being a deity (she was the granddaughter of the god of the Sun, Helios) is able to escape any sort of penalty for her crimes. Euripides accepts Medea’s rebellion by allowing her to escape and not face any retaliatory measures. The chorus too accepts Medea’s rebellion, as they do not condemn her actions, but says that “Many are the Fates which Zeus in Olympus dispenses; Many matters the gods bring to surprising ends. The things we thought would not happen; The unexpected God makes possible; And such is the conclusion of this story.
“14 This implies that what happened was simply the fate chosen for Jason and Medea. Unlike Nora in ‘A Doll’s House’, Medea escapes free of any conviction. However, this fact does not lead us to view her acts as not being rebellious. Medea murders her children to get revenge on Jason, and then very bitterly refuses to allow him to bury his own children. This is an act which contradicts all of the ancient customs and what they would consider as being ‘right’.
Thus, Medea, like Nora, can be characterised as a ‘rebel’. To conclude, Nora’s strive for recognition and credit in her own eyes leads her to acts which go against the normal situations in her society. Medea’s lust for vengeance, combined with her absolute resolution, also lead her down this rebellious path, thus showing that in both cases, the struggle for happiness and peace of heart and mind does not follow the rules and restraints of each society.