Medea – The Nurse’s Speech – Summary
The nurse wishes that the Argonauts had never sailed to Colchis in the Argo in search of the Golden Fleece, because it would mean that Medea would never have sailed to Iolcus because she loved Jason. Nor would she have done something dreadful such as persuading the daughters of Pelias to kill their father.
She was in love, but now her world has turned to hatred. Jason has betrayed his wife and children and has married Glauce, the daughter of Creon, the king of Corinth.
She raves, and invokes every promise Jason made to her. She has received little thanks for her help. She will not eat and spends the long hours in weeping.
She will not listen to her friends. She wails aloud for her dear country and the father whom she betrayed, which she left to come and live here with this man.
She looks at her sons as if she hates them and it seems as if she is forming some dreadful plan in her mind.
Answer these questions in full sentences:
- Write down:
a) One good thing the nurse says Medea has done for Jason.
She helped Jason tame the fire-breathing bulls. She used her magic to send the serpent which guarded the golden fleece to go to sleep
b) One bad thing.
She tricked the daughters of Pelias into killing their father. She killed her young brother Apsyrtus, cut him in pieces and threw him overboard, to prevent her father’s ship pursuing them.
- Why has Medea’s love for Jason turned to hatred?
Because he has abandoned her and married the princess in order to further his own interests.
- What evidence does the nurse have that Medea might harm her children?
She looks at them like an angry bull.
- Write down two ways in which Medea has reacted to the news of Jason’s desertion?
She doesn’t eat. She doesn’t raise her head from the floor
- What evidence is there that Medea is popular among the people of Corinth?
The nurse says that when Medea came to Corinth she was welcomed by the citizens.
- What news has the tutor just heard?
That Medea and her children are to be sent into exile
- Where did he hear this news?
At the fountain where the old men play at dice.
- How does the tutor think Medea will react to this news?
It will be a bitter blow for her
- How does the nurse feel about Jason when she hears this news?
She is about to curse but stops herself from doing so. After all he is her master.
- What evidence is there that Medea’s children may be in danger? Think of:
a) What the nurse has noticed about Medea.
She doesn’t like the way Medea looks at the children, ‘her eye like a wild bull’s’.