The main theme of this drama, Medea is that of revenge with love as the motivating factor. The play indicates how dreadfully Medea contrives her plan of vengeance. From the killing of the new bride and the bride's father her revenge began, and with the killing of her two children and by leaving her husband in destitute she succeeded in her attempt of revenge. Her revenge is excessive, perverse, and nihilistically potent. The theme of revenge in Medea is like saying -"what goes around comes around" in the sense that Medea has a strong desire to take back at Jason for what he has done to her.
From the beginning of the play we see Medea's desire of taking revenge.
"Oh, may I see Jason and his bride
Ground to pieces in their shattered palace
For the wrong that have dared to do to me''
Medea is a barbarian girl who had sacrificed everything for Jason. Medea's search for revenge commences after her husband, Jason, leaves her to gain power and prestige by marrying the daughter of the king Creon. So Medea is outraged by this and is set on seeking revenge on him because she killed her father and brother for the love of Jason. Her hatred for Jason became so fierce that it seems to her she will go to any length to hurt him. It seems possible to her to sacrifice some others, even if they be her children because she already sacrificed herself and had nothing left to risk apart from her children.
She is so out of control that she plots to annihilate all products of her and Jason's union. The boys' innocence is no defense against the irate Medea. Medea says – ''Death take you, with your father, and perish his whole house!" Medea's desire for revenge, to sever all ties between herself and her former husband is even clearer.
And to take her revenge, she plans to kill Jason's new bride and her two children.
''I will punish. He shall never see alive again
The sons he had from me. From his new bride he never
Shall breed a son; she by my poison, wretched girl,
Must die a hideous death. ''
Later in the play, Medea struggles between her devotion as mother and her desire for marriage.
'- Why should I hurt them ,to make
Their father suffer, when I shall suffer twice as much ''.
She also says,
'My hand shall not weaken,
Oh ,my heart ,don't do it !Oh ,miserable heart ,
I'll not leave sons of mine to be the victims of
My enemies' rage . . . .So, since I have a sad road
To travel, and send these boys on a still sadder road ,
She struggles to decide if she can accomplish her goal of revenge against Jason without killing her children because she cares for them. Unfortunately Medea's desire to exact revenge on Jason is greater than her love for her children and Medea is determined to satisfy her thirst for revenge through the children. SHE thinks only goal of revenge on Jason, not of the consequences it may bring. When she tells the chorus about the plan of killing her children, they wonder
` to kill your own children! Can you steel your
heart?'' To which she replies
''This is the way to deal Jason the deepest wound.''
This shows that she believes that by killing her children, she will basically ruin Jason's life, effectively getting her revenge. When asked about killing her children, she replies "So it must be. No compromise is possible." (819). This shows that she is bent on revenge.
When king Creon tells Medea that she will be exiled from the island of Corinth because he fears for the safety of his daughter. She convinces Creon into giving her an extra day before she is banished using the excuse of devising-
To settle some plan for my exile , make provision
For my two sons , since their own father is not concerned
To help them"
When actually she uses the time to carry out her murders.
Carefully she broods over the best way for her victims to suffer
Today three of my enemies I shall strike dead; yin
Father and daughter and my husband '' .. .
Rather than useing physical force to accomplish her plans, she uses her mind instead: it is best .to kill them by poison.
The best is the direct way, which most suits my bent:
To kill by poison. "
However, she does not poison them directly. She used her son to fulfill her motive. Medea has secured her escape through Aegeus; she confides her plan to use her children to exact revenge.
'''. I shall see my enemies punished as they deserve
She describes her plan in the way:
I 'll send them (children) to the palace bearing gifts ,a dress
Of soft weave and a coronet of beaten gold.
If she takes and puts on this finery ,both she
And all who touch her will expire in agony ;
With such a deadly poison I 'll anoint my gifts
…I will kill my sons.
No one shall take my children from me . …
Yes , I can endure guilt ,however horrible ;
The laughter of my enemies I will not endure ''
Her motive of revenge is seen from these speeches.
This speech encompasses her rage and plan of taking revenge against her enemies. Then Medea goes through with the act of killing Jason's new bride –Medea's children brings her a poisoned gown, which also ends up killing the king of Corinth. And then faces the tough act of murdering her own children whom she loves dearly. She does the awful deed and refuses to allow Jason access to their bodies to bury them or the ability to say goodbye to them. And by doing these killings, she proves that how cruel she is in her passion of revenge.
From the above discussion, we find the theme of Medea's passion of revenge for the wrong and injustice done to her by Jason. We also get the description of how dreadfully she contrives her plan of vengeance, kills the new bride and the king and then kills her own children and leaves her husband utterly destitute of all.