Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

John Gibert

Second Advisor

Sarah James

Third Advisor

Laurialan Reitzammer

Fourth Advisor

Jay Ellis


Why are two such controversial characters as Medea and Deianeira the protagonists in two plays in ancient Greek tragedy? This thesis analyzes the staging, actions, and speeches of these two women. It takes a closer look at expressions of femininity in each play. I argue that Medea and Trachiniae through a variety of expressions suggest that the audience take on an expanded understanding of femininity. The female protagonists of these two plays, despite their shocking actions, are neither condemned nor condoned for those actions. These female characters are presented as complex and fully human. They find themselves facing impossible dilemmas, and they cannot be confined to socially prescribed roles and behaviors for ancient Greek women.