Euripides’ Medea And Shakespeare’s The Tempest Essay Example
The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare. The story is set on an unknown island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. On the other hand, Medea is a play by Euripides. Even though the plays belong to very different periods, Medea by Euripides and The Tempest by Shakespeare have several motifs and motif in common beyond the fact that both were, original plays experienced through public performance. However, the plays differ in their unique resolutions of central problems,in their characterization, their development of their motifs, and in their broader assumptions regarding human nature, the public realm, and the functions of justice, duty, and wisdom.
In characterization, Euripides and Shakespeare present two characters with the same attributes. The main characters in the plays are comparable in some ways and different in others. Medeá, and Prospero have similarities as well as differences in their motives and ambitions. In the plays, both Medea and Prospero were magicians or rather performed sorcery. Medea and Prospero are used to present the motif of sorcery in the plays. In The Tempest, Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan was a powerful magician in the play as he uses his magic throughout the play. He uses his magical powers to whisk the storm, to intimidate his servants, to orchestrate his daughter’s wedding, and to manipulate his adversaries. For instance, Shakespeare notes that "It was Prospero who caused the tempest. Aware of who was on the ship, thanks to his magical powers, he commanded the sea to deliver to him the king and his company to settle some unfinished business" (Shakespeare 22). In addition, another instance of magical work in Shakespeare is when a magnificent banquet is brought to Antonio, King Alonso, Sebastaian, and the entire entourage of the king. Ariel was sent to present them on behalf of Prospero so as to punish them. Moreover, Prospero used his magical powers on his servants, Ariel and Caliban to follow his instructions to cause destruction. In the play, Prospero was a powerful magician who used his powers to manipulate everyone and every situation in the play. He used magical powers and spirits to get what was rightful his and to make his daughter happy. Nonetheless, at the end of the play, he renounces his magic.
Comparably, in Medea, Medea was a known powerful sorcerer in the play. She performed sorcery so as to get the suitor she wanted for marriage. This is evident when Euripides notes that "Medea, daughter of Aeetes and renowned as a sorceress, falls in love with Jason, kills her brother, deceives her father, and helps Jason get the fleece in return for a promised marriage" (Euripides 12). Medea used her magical powers to commit unspeakable acts, just to have Jason, the man he loved. Apart from Medea, Aeetes her father is also a known sorcerer in the play. He uses his magical powers to manipulate his daughter.
One common theme in the two plays is revenge. In Medea, it is evident that Medea was a character with extreme behaviors which made her bitter. Medea had passionate love for Jason, and after Jason betrayed her, she opted for revenge against him.She turned into a bitter and vengeful woman and she was set for destruction. In the play, she sacrificed everything just to make her revenge great. In the process of her revenge, Medea ended up murdering her own children, for the reason that she was hurting Jason. In addition, she did all she could just to revenge against her enemies even if her actions left her in grief.
Comparably, in The Tempest, the theme of revenge is depicted by Prospero. Prospero enacted his revenge in a perfect way for all the people who had hurt him in one way or the other. He used Ariel to administer his revenge on his enemies as he did not want to have a direct involvement in his enemies punishments. Prospero was revenging against Antonio and Caliban, but in his quest for revenge, other people were affected to. He was stripped off his right to be a Duke and banished from the island by Antonio, and he did all he could just to get his position back. All Prospero wanted was to avenge the disservice that was done to him by his brother. In addition,he wanted to help his daughter find the true love she wished for.
The difference between the revenge in The Tempest and Medea is that, in The Tempest, Prospero had no intentions of hurting anyone in his revenge, he only wanted to get what rightfully belonged to him and to show his adversaries the pain he underwent while stranded on the magical island. Prospero’s vengeance was a mental anguish to those who hurt him. In contrast, in Medea, the characters wanted to hurt others in their process of revenge. Medea performed her revenge without any concern about the consequences of her actions because she did it out of pure spite for Jason.
Moreover, the development of the motifs in the plays is very different. For instance, in The Tempest, Prospero decided to use the motif of magic to revenge against the people who had hurt him. He was banished from the island and his dukeship taken away from him by his brother Antonio. Therefore, Prospero decided to use magic in order to get his dukeship back and to prevent his enemies from killing him, because they had hacked a plot to murder him. In addition, Prospero wanted her daughter to find love and be happy, yet his adversaries were working against it, consequently, he opted for magic just to make her daughter be with the man she loved. Comparably, in Medea, unlike Prospero, Medea used magic just to hurt other people because she was a spiteful and hateful person. In addition, she used magic just to get what she wanted. Medea was a hurtful witch who had nothing good within herself, except for evil and revenge. Her hatred towards Jason, her ex-husband took over all her emotions and as a result, she decided to retaliate. Her evil plans of revenge are revealed when she kills Jason’s fiance and his future father in law. In addition, she even kills her children, and this further reveals her wickedness even more. Medeá is depicted as an evil person in her revenge, and this contrary to Prospero, who is just a man who wants his rightful dukeship that was stripped off from him by his evil brother. Nonetheless, both characters in the play used their magical powers to get what they wanted.
Each play features the presence of a hero. For instance, in The Tempest, Prospero is the protagonist ans the hero of the play. Known as a powerful sorcerer, an ousted Duke, and a father to Miranda, Prospero becomes a hero at the end of the story because, he renounces his magic and becomes a normal person he was. He is a character who generates the entire plot of The Tempest and brings the play to a happy ending as a hero. Additionally, he was duke and after his dukeship was taken away from him, he had to do all he could to get back his dukeship, and therefore, at the end of the play, he is able to become a hero by forgiving everyone who wronged him and taking over the island. On the other hand, Medea is depicted as a heroine as well as not a super woman. She is a heroine because, with the help of her magical powers, Jason was able to get the Golden Fleece to become a legendary hero. In addition, she is a tragic hero because, she went from a royal girl, a happy nurse,happy wife, to a vengeful powerful sorcerer in the society. On the other hand, she is an anti-heroine because she did all evil things purposely just to get what she wanted. She killed people just to satisfy her ego and revenge.
After comparing and contrasting the two plays. it is much clearer that there are similarities and difference in the stories, specifically the motifs of the actions of the main characters in the plays. There is also a much better depiction of how each character opted for revenge against the people who wronged them. It is obvious that both plays present a common theme and motif which makes the plays similar. Nonetheless, the plays are different in their settings and the development of the characters and their motifs.
In conclusion, Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Euripides’ Medea are two plays set in different eras but common in many perspectives. Apart from their similarities, they are different in their characterization, themes and motifs. Both plays use the motif of magic and sorcery as their main characters use magical powers to get what they want. Shakespeare and Euripides present characters who are both strong, at times manipulative as they take control what they do and what they want.
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. New York: Dover Thrift, 1998. Print.Euripides. Medea. New York: Dover Thrift, 1993. Print.
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