Fragmenting the Myth: Augusta Webster’s “Medea in Athens” and the Victorian Female Struggle
Keywords:Medea, Augusta Webster, stream of consciousness, dramatic monologue, Victorian feminism
Augusta Webster’s poem “Medea in Athens” offers a dramatic interpretation of Medea’s psychological responses to Jason’s death. Using the technique of broken dramatic monologue, this poem allows the poet to offer a personal vision of a Medea in contention with her repressed emotions. Whilst the poem has been much studied by feminist scholars as a remarkable example of the struggle of the New Woman in Victorian England, this paper highlights the role played by the voice of Jason’s ghost that represents Medea’s unconscious, and that despite her desperate attempts reveals a strong patriarchal image of femininity. As the poem unfolds, it unveils how Jason’s ghost projects the intense love that the protagonist feels for him, a love from which she cannot free herself. This paper reads the poem to pinpoint contrasting issues between psychological subjectivity and agency that affected many new intellectual Victorian women in their battles against patriarchy, and their own selves.
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