"Men must fight and women must weep"
Essay on Gender Roles
Gender roles are those characteristics, actions or behaviours, for which acceptance and approval within a particular community, and at a specified time, is determined on a gender-specific basis. A very traditional idea of these roles is that men are overt, the protectors, the providers and aggressive: "men must fight..." and women are covert, the victims, passive and emotional "...women must weep". Traditional gender roles are found in many texts. In the play Medea by Euripides, the main character, Media, both challenges and endorses traditional gender roles through her actions, her words and her reactions.
Medea betrays her father, the king, by helping Jason, who is a foreigner and therefore disliked. The king made plans to kill Jason but Medea, knowing of these plans, intervenes and helps him escape. This action challenges traditional concepts of the female gender role, as women, in the patriarchal society of ancient Greece, were supposed to have deep respect for their fathers who provided for them and kept them safe from harm.
By betraying her father she is going against her traditional role as a daughter which was to be obedient, passive and grateful. Despite this betrayal she still shows some female essence: "She sat alone in her room, weeping and telling herself she was shamed forever because she cared so much for a stranger that she wanted to yield to a mad passion and go against her father." (Edith Hamilton, Mythology) She cries, showing a weak, typically womanly emotion, as "...women must weep", because she feels guilt and remorse. She also contemplates what she is going to do, unlike 'irrational' men, who more often act before they think. After thinking it through and yielding to her mad passion, Medea's actions are carried...