Medea, Achilles, and Job


I’m having trouble examining Medea as a hero in a Campbell sense because in the era of Euripides, my mind keeps turning to Hero in the Tragic sense, the kind based on Aristotle’s Poetics. As a Tragic hero, she does not make sense (just as many of Euripides’s protagonists break Aristotle’s rules for Tragedy), she neither is a great man acting worse than low men, she does have a fatal flaw but she never realizes it and this makes it so the audience does not go through a moment of katharsis.

The Hero’s Journey also does not apply to Medea. Almost none of the steps happen to her. In fact, a lot of the steps are reversed. The mentor character actually discourages her instead of supporting her. Her supernatural aid doesn’t approve of her actions, to name a couple. I truly hate that this is the case, but she falls in line with the assertion that “women do not have journeys” they are already spiritually set, they care more about mothering. Medea, does not follow the definition of women – she doesn’t care about mothering – and she has no self-awareness in any spiritual sense. It’s almost as though she’s caught in limbo. She isn’t a woman and she isn’t a man. She can’t be comfortable not going on a journey and her hero’s journey is a twisted, backwards one.

Achilles does go on a Hero’s journey. I personally believe that if both people existed in the real world, they would both be despicable people. But from a literary standpoint, Achilles does go through a truncated hero’s journey. He skips a few steps, but his manslaughter through negligence of his fellow soldiers is almost justified by his pursuit of Honor. (I’m tempted to make this symmetrical and try to apply Aristotle, but that concept of Tragedy relies on having a live audience, so it would be too much of a stretch.)

Achilles is a Hero and Medea is not, as far as the Hero’s Journey is concerned. As far as my personal opinion on it, neither did anything heroic.


Job is satisfied with God’s assertion of divine power because first of all, proof of God’s existence is enough to confirm Job’s view that he should accept what is given to him by God. Secondly, his belief that God’s reasoning is beyond what he can and should understand as human is reaffirmed by the whirlwind not dealing with his question at all. The point of the story seems to be that once he learns not to ask questions, he has learned his lesson.

I don’t find the end of the dialogue satisfactory at all. All God seems to be doing is being cruel and all he seems to be teaching is willful ignorance. I have no problem with organized religion or personal faith, it seems like both would be comforting. I personally am not satisfied with being told to accept things without question. I’m sure there are things beyond what we can as humans understand, but I don’t hold with the idea that there are things beyond what we should understand.