It is easy to read the story of Medea as told by Seneca as a critique on the effects of passions on the mind set on a person. However, the violence of the story while coming physically from Medea finds its roots in the actions of those around her. The dismissal of her pain and hurt by those that she had sacrificed so much for was the catalyst for the harm and death that we read. The only wrong Medea is guilty of is that she is a woman with power, who from the outset of the play is already in a disenfranchised position.
Medea stands in precarious in a situation and instead of bowing to the pressures of her situations; she uses what is available to her to act with agency and impose her will on others. It was not until after meetings with Creon then Jason, who consistently ignore her desires and pleas, that she reaches a breaking point. She sacrificed her brother, left her homeland, murdered for the sake of Jason and his glory. Yet when the time comes to dispense punishment, Medea alone must face comeuppance. Mirroring the actions and behaviors of Jason, Medea ignores ideals of morality and social obligation. Michael Zelenak compares the two characters thusly “(Medea) insists on her right to do what male protagonists have always done - to define herself and become her vision of herself, regardless of law or morality. In a man, this is called a tragic protagonist. In a woman, it is called a monster, or “a witch,” (Zelenak 17). Not only does being a stranger in a strange land put Medea in an inferior position in regards to other characters, but the mere fact that she is a woman, a supernaturally powerful woman at that, paint the perception of others have of her. The fear of the damage that she is capable of bringing down kept the other characters from approaching her, as she truly was, a wounded woman. It is possible that the violent outcome could have been avoided had a proper discussion between the characters. However, all characters with direct contact with Medea reject her feelings of betrayal as out of control passions and minimized her as a person, she took a course of action that she felt could not be ignored as easily as her words were.
photocredit: Medea - cover illustration- ©Editions Faton 2014 byThomasBrissot