A Comparison of Love in Medea and Layla & Majnun
Euripides was a Greek playwright who wrote in the 5th century BC. He is known for his tragedies and is considered one of the three great tragedians of Athens, along with Aeschylus and Sophocles. One of his most famous works is the play “Medea”.
“Layla & Majnun” is a love story from the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, written in the 12th century AD. The story has been adapted and retold many times, in various cultures.
Both “Medea” and “Layla & Majnun” are stories about women who are subordinated by men and both end up killing their loved ones. In this essay, I will compare and contrast these two works, looking at the theme of love and how it is portrayed in each.
2. Medea and her infatuation
In Euripides’ play “Medea”, the title character is a woman who is deeply in love with her husband Jason. When Jason abandons her for another woman, Medea takes revenge by killing not only Jason’s new wife, but also their two children.
Medea is an illustration of infatuation carried too far. This is in a woman defiantly determined on choosing rage over compassion and logic. As Medea says herself: “I have resolved on madness… since my heart has been destroyed by love… I could not bear to see my children taken from me… or to endure Jason’s happiness with another wife… I would rather die than live in such misery!”
It is clear that Medea is not thinking logically when she kills her children. She believes that by doing so, she will make Jason suffer as much as she has suffered. However, all she succeeds in doing is ensuring that her children will never be able to forgive her, and that Jason will always hate her.
3. Layla & Majnun: a tale of everlasting love
In the Persian poem “Layla & Majnun”, the titular characters are madly in love with each other but are not allowed to marry due to their different social status. Layla is a noblewoman while Majnun is a poor shepherd boy. Over time, as their love grows stronger, Majnun becomes more and more obsessed with Layla to the point where he stops eating and neglects his flock of sheep. Eventually, he dies of starvation.
Layla grieves for him deeply and eventually dies of a broken heart herself. The two lovers are then buried side by side and their graves become covered in roses and jasmine – symbols of their pure and eternal love for each other.
This story contrasts sharply with “Medea” in that it portrays true love instead of infatuation. Majnun may be obsessed with Layla but he does not try to force himself on her or control her in any way. He simply loves her from afar and is content to do so, even though it leads to his death.