Sample Speech: Is Medea Guilty of Murder? (Euripides)
Men of Corinth, I am here today to argue that Medea is guilty of the murders of Creon, King of Corinth; his daughter, Glauce; Jason, Medea’s husband; and finally, her own two children. Euripides’s play is described as a play about injustice and revenge. Medea’s tragedy has been quite controversial, and writing about a controversial topic is never easy as there are many sides to consider. Some have argued that Medea acted irrationally as a result of her passion, otherwise of insanity, and therefore cannot be considered guilty. More specifically, it has been argued that the pain and suffering caused by Jason’s disloyalty and decision to marry another woman drove Medea to madness and pushed her to act rashly and violently. However, in this speech , I shall argue that it is not madness, for she consciously planned her actions, and it is her selfishness that allowed her to pursue such violent acts.
There is no doubt that Medea becomes angry when she finds out that Jason has decided to marry Glauce and that she and her children have been banished from Corinth. When she appears on stage, she is visibly shaken. After all, she fled from her own kingdom to marry Jason but not before committing a number of crimes. The king of Corinth was aware of the crimes committed by Medea and has banished Medea and her children to Athens. All these made Medea angry and vengeful, and after some thought, she decided to inflict pain on Jason and King Creon. While it is indeed her circumstances that drove her to vengefulness, it is ultimately her decision to not only murder Glauce and her own children.
My thesis is that Medea is guilty because she made a conscious decision to commit such heinous crimes. In the succeeding speech, I shall lay out evidence that Medea cannot be protected by the insanity plea because she demonstrated the capability to think rationally yet chose to act irrationally. Glauce did not hesitate in her decision to murder Glauce, and she planned and executed it flawlessly. She did not attack Glauce out of rage; instead, she planned a murder that would not have been detected until it was underway. She pretended to be calm and accepting of Jason’s decision, she even asked king Creon to let her stay another day. She thought of numerous ways to kill Jason, King Creon, and Glauce, and deemed that the best way to accomplish this without being suspected is through poison. The fact that Medea was able to deliberate the best method to kill her three enemies is a testament to the fact that her mind is intact. Medea’s mind is evidently not mad. She is aware of the consequences of her action, and the fact that her plan is unacceptable even to the gods. She says:
“If I am caught making my way into the chamber, intent on my design, I shall be put to death and cause my foes to mock, 'Twere best to take the shortest way-the way we women are most skilled in-by poison to destroy them. Well, suppose them dead; what city will receive me? What friendly host will give me a shelter in his land, a home secure, and save my soul alive? None” (Euripides).
She then refers to the idea of killing her children as “my most unholy deed.” Despite these, she insists that her revenge is justified for she believes that she had been wronged and dishonored to the highest degree.
Another proof that Medea is in her right mind when she made the decision to kill her children is her hesitation. Aside from her awareness of the consequences of such a heinous act, Medea also doubted whether she will be able to push through with it. She herself questions the rationality of her decision:
“O, I cannot; farewell to all my former schemes; I will take the children from the land, the babes I bore. Why should I wound their sire by wounding them, and get me a twofold measure of sorrow? No, no, I will not do it” (Euripides).
However, her selfishness and vengefulness overcome these hesitations, and she pushes through with killing her children, too. Anger and vengefulness are overwhelming emotions but these are not stronger than one’s will. Others may argue that Jason’s actions pushed her to do such extremes. However, in the end, it is still her choice to kill her children. No matter how dire the situation is, everyone has a choice. They can make the right or the wrong choice, and in this case, Medea chose the wrong one. Medea chose to do the wrong thing despite knowing that it was wrong. She willfully put her children in harm’s way just to inflict revenge on Jason.
In the end, she did not feel remorse or guilt. Medea stood by her actions and even blamed Jason for what she has done. Medea thinks that her actions were justified. She revels in the pain she and Jason feel due to the death of their children. Thus, for these reasons, it is clear that Medea is guilty of the death of her children, King Creon, and Glauce. It cannot be argued that Medea had gone mad because of Jason’s actions because evidence shows that she is well aware of the consequences of her actions, as well as how immoral and irrational they are. Despite these, she chose to satiate her selfish need to take revenge on Jason. She even made arrangements for herself to get away from the potential punishment that will come her way. Men of Corinth, Medea is evidently a woman who is capable of brazenly committing heinous crimes. She cares only for herself, and she alone is to be blamed for the tragedy that fell upon her life. In conclusion, she should be considered guilty and be punished according to the laws of our land.
Euripides. “Medea.” Trans. E.P. Coleridge. The Internet Classics. http://classics.mit.edu/Euripides/medea.html