Example Of Essay On Comparing And Contrasting Euripides’ Medea And Shakespeare’s The Tempest
Indeed, Euripides’Medea and Shakespeare’s The Tempest were written in two different eras in addition to the fact that the two writers were two different people. Yet, the two works seem to meet on certain grounds, exploring some common themes, and utilize the same motifs. Moreover, both plays were originally experienced through public stage performance. However, as expected, these two works are also different on, among other things, how they develop common motifs, how they seek to resolve central problems, as well as the implied or explicitly stated assumptions on human nature, functions of justice, public realm, duty and wisdom, among others. This paper explores in what ways the works are similar and also how they differ.
Euripides’s Medea was first performed in 431 BCE. It is a Greek tragedy that based on the ’Jason and Medea’ myth. The story revolves around the actions of Medea, Jasons wife.When Jason leaves her for the hand of a Greek Princess of Corinth, Medea finds her position in Greek and the immediate society threatened. This is especially true her being a barbarian, in other words a foreign in a foreign land. Besides, the only concrete link she has had with the land, her husband Jason, has left her unclaimed for. In vengeance, Medea kills Jason’s young wife, her won children and Jason. After that, she escapes the law to starts a new life in Athens.
These two stories are also similar in relation to the themes they explore. In both cases, the writers explore the theme of identity and what people may do when their identities are threatened. Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan who was unseated from his rightful place, plots to restore Miranda, his daughter, to her rightful place (that is, at the top of Kingdom). The throne is, for Prospero, part of his identity, and will not let it go. He is ready to fight for it by all means.
In Menea, Euripides also explores the theme of identity. Menea is a barbarian in Greek. The term ‘barbarian’ in Greek was a term for those who could not speak the language. In other words, Menea was already set apart from her surrounding by how she stood alone in a crowd of natives. Her marriage to Jason is the only thing that connects to the land and the people. It is also because of the marriage that the Greek accept her. However, Menea remains conscious of this thin thread that is the marriage, so that when Jason chooses to leave her, she becomes aware of how precarious her position is. She has lost her bargaining chip, so she is vulnerable.
Both of these characters, Prospero and Menea, have lost their powers. Prospero’s power is represented by the tangible seat up the Kingdom’s throne. Menea’s power is an invisible one in the head, a metaphor. Either way, both set out to redeem themselves, gain that power back. Prospero uses illusion and cunning manipulation to get his way. Menea uses violence. But despite the difference in the situations in which they find themselves, Prospero and Menea are willing to do anything to restore their dignity. They are willing to shed blood for it: Prospero uses his magic to cause a storm which could easily have killed the people in the ships. That he does not cause the ships to sink does not mean he is kind. On the contrary, he lets them free out of cruelty, to see them experience his vengeance. He does change his heart and forgives Alonso’s betrayal. In other words, he triumphs above evil. Still, he did use his magic power to serve his intentions. In other words, he possesses the capacity for evil. Menea also spares no one, including her children, in her pursuit of power. Both Euripides and Shakespeare seem to imply that everyone has the capacity for evil, and that all it takes is an appropriate cue. For Prospero, the cue was the loss of power. In fact, even his forgiveness can be attributed to the assurances that, through his daughter, he will regain that power after all. For Menea, it is the loss of her husband. For her, however, there is no redemption.
We also see an abuse of power in both Prospero and Menea. Prospero’s power lies in his magic. Menea’s power lies in her disguises behind a mask of concern and care.
Another important theme in both stories is about the plight of women in patriarchal society. In both times, feminism movement was not yet in place, although there is much about literature in both times that could be identified with the movement. We see these in both cases.
In The Tempest, Prospero hopes to restore himself to the throne. But he does not wish to take the throne back himself. Rather, he wishes to do it through his daughter Miranda. The striking factor here is that a man places his faith in a woman. Miranda is Prospero’s path back to power. Without her, Prospero is done.
However, before one sees this as a triumph for the girl child, it is important to examine a few things. First, Miranda herself does not seem to have a means for restoring Prospero back to power. She is merely a pawn and she is being played by her father to suit his goals. But the most important factor has to do with how Miranda should regain the power- through the institution of marriage. Miranda’s return to power is not by her wits or any strengths. Instead, that strength lies in her being a woman, which gives her some feminine power over man’s libido. In other words, Miranda, while being presented as the key triumph for Prospero, she is herself a victim. True, she does fall in love, which is nothing wrong. But in this case Shakespeare uses her as a tool by which men get other way. It is doubtful that Prospero would have given Miranda his blessings if she had fallen with any of less power.
Perhaps, on this matter of feminism, Europids, despite living in centuries before Shakespeare’s time, gives feminism a bigger victory. Menea is a victim the patriarchy at the time, a context that does not give her much voice. In the end, although she goes about it the wrong way, from her point of view, she triumphs over all that stood on her way as she pursued power. Here is a woman who chooses to set herself free and does.
In conclusion, Europide’s Menea and Shakespeare’s The Tempest, may have been eras apart and written by two different people, but, despite the expected differences, generally explore same themes even if their resolutions to the problems are not the same. Perhaps this illustrates the timelessness of basic human dreams.