Medea Altruistic Infanticide

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MEDEA: THE ABANDONED “…You must know the stress and fear I have being unable to offer even water to my children” (Eripides, 2015, p.27) To be able to analyze Medea’s motives in the play, one must understand the biological and psychological reasons leading to altruistic infanticide. According to Sara G. West, a Doctor from the Department of Psychiatry in Ohio, Altruistic filicide is defined as the crime where parents kill their children because either the world is too cruel for them or because they are suffering from an incurable disease (West, 2015, Para.10). It is not easy to analyze altruistic infanticide due to its antithetical nature. It is antithetical because murder is considered a horrible act born out of hatred yet the reason behind…show more content…
On the contrary, it rather looks as an argument against them seeing that even animals love and protect their children while these two heartless women did not. In order to understand the connection, let’s strip society of its civilization and human intelligence, and, hence, go back to how animals behave. For example, Cat owners know that in many situations, the mother cat, though very protective of her kittens and hostile towards anyone coming near them, might end up killing and sometimes eating her own kittens. Horrifying as it may sound, this phenomenon is observed in many animals such as lions, bears, rats and many more (Morell, 2014, Para.12). Reasons for such actions vary drastically from wanting to increase reproductive opportunities to reducing the competition for natural resources (Taylor, 2012, Para.3). However, the most common incentive for infanticide among animals was found to be the altruistic infanticide: when the mother fears for the safety of her offspring due to another predator attack, she might resolve to end their lives. By killing them, the mother saves the lives of herself and the older and stronger children (Taylor, 2012, Para.13). It is ironic when journalist Virginia Morell, concludes that about animals’ behavior: “As reasonable as these decisions sound, there's still something profoundly upsetting about the deed—so much so that even biologists used to regard it as a pathological behaviour”, especially that humans are committing infanticide as well (Morell, 2014,

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