Jessica Le

Sefferino Ramos

1B, 9 O’clock

14, December 2018

Victimizing Corruption

The Gorgon of Greek mythology Medusa is one of the most famous mythological monsters in history. She is known for her hair made of snakes and her abilities to turn mortals into stone with one gaze, she is a horrible monster, but she is also a victim. The story of Medusa is a tragic one. Once a fair maiden, turned into a victim of rape and then into a victim of a transmogrification to what she looks like to the rest of the world. The cause of Medusa’s creation in light of the mythological story is that she is a victim turned monster. None of this was her fault and she did not wrong Athena in any way, it was more the fault of Poseidon for attacking Medusa especially within one of his family members temple. When it comes to a societal purpose, the creation of Medusa goes to show the tragedy of how an innocent person can become a monster, and after becoming a monster, they are consumed by their anger to no longer be innocent, even though they might not have been the ones at fault. Corruption is an invisible snake that kills and ruins. It can turn a once victim into a victim of corruptions maw, and upon their corruption, they are also the ones blamed in the end, the ones who are punished. In this case, Medusa’s turning, was killed by Perseus. The story of her creation, the meaning behind her corruption and how it is a good symbol of human society effectively shows exactly the affects of how she as a monster was created.

Medusa was once a beautiful women, she was akin to one of the Gods of Olympus, but one day in Athena’s temple, Medusa was attacked by Poseidon and forced into submission. This is an important part of the story that is not looked at very much. Even stated in an article by Mckenzie Schwark as a feminist response to pop culture states “But Medusa’s rape is glossed over, mentioned once at the beginning of the tale, if at all. The portrayal of Medusa as a monster becomes the central sexist device of the myth, used to scare women off from casting a harsh gaze on their oppressors for fear of seeming monstrous as well.” (Schwark) The story literally places Medusa at the crux of all the blame as in the next part, her submission in Athena’s temple angered Athena greatly and caused her to curse Medusa to become the beautiful but ugly and filthy monster we see today who possesses snakes as hair and the ability to turn all those who look into her eyes into stone. This was how she was created. Even as a work of the human mind, of fiction, it is a sad thought that the way she is seen to the rest of the world is that of a monstrous hag with snakes for hair and who has killed everyone she has gazed at. The way she is remembered is that the glorious hero, Perseus, kills and beheads her and everyone celebrates for her death. Her head used as both a trophy and a weapon.

Corruption is a monster in and of itself. Medusa as a person was destroyed by this very corruption. She becomes a victim of Poseidon’s assault, a victim of Athena’s anger, a victim of her own corrupted form, and finally a victim of a hero who has slew the so called “monster”. It is a truly saddening paradox of unfortunate events for Medusa. None of it was her fault, but she was taken by the currents of her misfortunes. Only her actions in her transformed form had the power to make a change. But who can blame her for that? Upon misfortune and misfortunes, no one has the right to say that Medusa could have reacted to her undoing’s differently. Medusa is a victim even in that regard. Her punishments for her endless line of punishments are a testament of the cruel and ironic nature of society. They say that only we ourselves have the power to makes ourselves happy. That no matter what circumstance is brought to the individual, that they still have that power. But the misfortune and corruption brought on Medusa is a symbol of that irony. Her becoming shows that the nature of people’s origins is a representation of how that individuals life will play out. Finally, Doris Silverman, who was doing a psychoanalytic observation on the story presents this idea well, “ She leveled her wrath on all men who sought her out, displacing her rage with Poseidon to all men. She could think, ‘Your gaze, which I once valued, has turned me icy cold. Look at my face if you dare and you will be punished forever as I am.’ Her cold, icy stare reduced men to abjection and even turned their own hearts to coldness and emptiness.” (Silverman) It represents the unequal nature of society as well as the idea that even the most beautiful things can turn ugly, the most innocent and pure souls can be turned into the most horrifying and evil souls, whether it be out of frustration or vengeance, as it is shown here.

But no one bats an eye to Medusa’s background and how exactly she was created. From the thesis point of view, this would work with the monsters body being a cultural body. Unfortunately, this is one that has caused Medusa to live an eternity without even knowing it. She was, is and will probably always be representative of the cultural body. By this, no one wonders how the monsters feel. Not the authority figures such as Athena who bestowed this “punishment” upon Medusa. Not the Hero who kills Medusa. Not the many soldiers and humans who feared her existence and celebrated her death. The only thing that matters to people in society is how the monsters fall and that the monsters are punished, whether it is by imprisonment or by death, even if they were the victims. This is how it is in society as well. The monster’s body is the cultural body is represented well here. The effects of Medusa’s creation has a lasting effect throughout even in the current times, if only it is something people pay attention to, rather than her effects after she was turned. It is the depressing but necessary nature of society. For example, Society as a whole  punish the thieves for stealing, even though their life is so hard and difficult that they had to resort to theft. Upon their capture and arrest, society, or rather, their victims, celebrate their punishment, not giving in to the idea behind why they do what they did. There are some black and white instances of evil, but corruption always does a good job in creating gray areas of what is exactly evil in our society. Medusa’s origin story is a good example of this.

The told but almost unheard story of Medusa’s creation is one of many hardships and misunderstanding. Her creation as a monster effects her whole being through corruption. She becomes a victim of a line of unfortunate events that are placed on her, each event occurring thanks to the previous event. The story that is remembered of Medusa shows a monster that is deservingly slain by a Hero rather than her past of being a victim of almost everything that has happened to her. Her corruption is a symbol of both the irony of society as well as the fact that even the most beautiful people can become the most ugly and evil beings. These ideas are brought into even modern society, connected by the origins of people’s birth through their families status and backgrounds. It is the most horrible truth in society that can not be avoided, and Medusa’s creation is the embodiment of that truth.

 

Annotated Bibliography

  1. Avarvarei, Simona Catrinel. “Medusa as the Story of Victorian Feminine Identity.”

Journal of History, Culture & Art Research / Tarih Kültür ve Sanat Arastirmalari Dergisi, vol. 4, no. 3, Sept. 2015, pp. 63–68. EBSCOhost, doi:10.7596/taksad.v4i3.480.

 

  1. Schwark, McKenzie. “Snake Eyes: The Power to Turn the Patriarchy to Stone.” Bitch

Magazine: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, no. 78, Spring 2018, pp. 20–21. EBSCOhost,chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=128136185&site=ehost-live.

  1. Silverman, Doris K. “Medusa: Sexuality, Power, Mastery, and Some Psychoanalytic

Observations.” Studies in Gender & Sexuality, vol. 17, no. 2, Apr. 2016, pp. 114–125. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15240657.2016.1172926.