Feminist Ideals In The Plays Medea English Literature Essay
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: English Literature|
|✅ Wordcount: 1254 words||✅ Published: 1st Jan 2015|
In the Scandinavian play Hedda Gabler and in the Greek tragedy Medea, the two protagonists have different views on common standards regarding women’s rights imposed by society and are eager to overcome whatever it takes for their ambitions to be realized. Although Medea takes place in ancient Greece and Hedda Gabler in Norway in the 1900’s, therefore do not share the same setting, the way society treated women was very similar. At that time it was surprising to see women wanting different lives other than those of motherhood, and striving to become more independent. Both characters symbolize feminism and the stereotypical view of housewives. Feminism brought many changes for women in modern society, most importantly more equality between genders. In the past, women would not dare to go against what was imposed on them as they were afraid to be dishonored and offended for being ‘inappropriate women’. In these two plays we can analyze two women who are ahead in regards to their historical time period, as they possess courage, intelligence and power. These values are clearly denoted from the characters since they stepped ahead compared to other women of their time. However, in Hedda Gabler and in Medea, the female characters astound the reader by their unpredictability and show the desire for equality between genders and independence from their respective male figures.
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Ibsen portrays Hedda as an unconventional woman. Her character mirrors the deprivations caused by society in women’s lives, as they would sacrifice their own happiness and freedom for that of their husbands and families. In those times, women had almost no freedom; they were forced to remain in their homes and would not be able to enter the outside world away from their families. In the play, Hedda wants independence but is not able to have it as she has no means of being responsible for herself. Hedda can also be seen as a new, revised version of Medea, since she also strived for independence but was not able to achieve it. Hedda is a very negative character as she refuses everything she does not desire: she ignores her pregnancy, destroys Thea’s and Loveborg’s manuscript which they considered to be their child and finally commits suicide at the end of the play. Hedda is so depressed by her inability to seize life truly that she is not emotionally able to relate with other characters. Hedda does not have a specific role in society itself: she is neither the traditional woman figure that is George’s aunt, and not even like Mrs. Elvsted; housemaid. Unlike other women of the 20th century, Hedda was a rare case: hedda’s father or also General Gabler prepared his daughter by teaching her how to loead and shoot a gun. Those are actions directly linked to the military skills and constitute the bases for her attraction to romance as well as violence. She has somewhat masculine qualities and these form a sort of contrast in the play. “No, for the love of God, my darling Hedda..don’t touch these dangerous contraptions! For my sake Hedda! Eh?” Hedda had thus found a pass time in Tesman’s pistols. The owning of weapons brings women closer to the image of men. Guns are used for hunting and can also be used against other human beings. Traditionally, women are supposed to support peace and protect their family from any harm which might be inflicted upon them. The gun allows Hedda to be further independent and assures her the security of being able to do anything she wants, to whoever she wants. This reflects also her need of having to constantly control people, as guns determine either life or death.
Medea, due to her desires, ignores the feminist stereotypes that were present in Greek society. Such as that of women being inferior to men, and not as intelligent; as being only responsible for raising strong sons and for supporting their husband through whatever hardship. Medea doubts and challenges the fact that women are weak and inert, goes against Jason’s sexist beliefs and ignores the responsibilities of motherhood completely. She also questions women’s inequalities in patriarchal societies where the government and the household were both controlled by men. Women were instructed to be at home with their parents until someone was chosen for them to marry. Once the woman was take to her husband’s home, she was then responsible for her children’s behavior and education.
Medea is infuriated by Jason’s betrayal and marriage to another woman. As she represents inequality in women in Greek society, she questions what role and position women should actually have in society. We can see at the beginning of the play when she poses the questions: “Are we women not the wretchedness? We scratch and save a dowry to buy a manâ€¦our lives depend on how his lordship feels. For better, for worse, we can’t divorce him.” And on the other hand: “a husband tired of domesticity, goes out, sees his friends and enjoys himself”. These two quotes clearly demonstrate the injustice and differences between the two genders, and how more difficult a woman’s life might have been than a man’s. This relationship can almost be reflected on that of slaves and their owners, where women are the slaves and men the owners.
In Medea, women are portrayed as pathetic and submissive. Medea is not as strong as her husband Jason as she is not able to stop his affair with another woman and completely loses her sanity in the process. She therefore opts to using a man’s willpower to solve the terrible situation in which she is in: “I’ll kill the children- and when all Jason’s hopes are gone- I will leave this land”. This reaction is extreme as she puts her children’s life in jeopardy only in order to have control of the situation. By demonstrating her determination, it is clear that it is just another way for Euripides to provoke controversial feminist ideas in society.
“This course must run. No weaknesses. Noâ€¦memories”. Medea seems as though she has sacrificed her motherhood morals rather than her independence. Medea’s feminist aims push her to seek her independence and desires. The climax of the situation is therefore when she kills her kids, having completely lost control of her mind and body while attempting to take control of her life.
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Medea is seen as an important character representing the pursuit of happiness throughout feminist acts, although she disrespects societal values entirely. On the other hand, Hedda Gabler, talks about issues that were more common at the time Ibsen wrote the play, as women had gained suffrage and were starting to pursue the same jobs as men. In either story we can see the rejection of their role in society and their desire to be stronger than their male peers. Even today, men seem to be more powerful than women, but this is also a counter effect of women seeming to be more submissive to male requests. We can conclude that Medea and Hedda were, in a way, the evolution of women in society. Today’s women have managed to work side by side, entitled to the same liberties, rights and freedom of speech in most of the modern and developed societies.
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