Every time Medea interacts with a male in the play, she seems to have a personal goal in mind, and she uses her cunning to achieve those ends. It starts with Jason, where she angrily says, “Do you think that I would ever have fawned on that man / Unless I had some end to gain or profit in it?” (368-369). I doubt Medea actually never loved Jason, since she killed her father and brother, helped him steal the golden fleece, and forever left her home country behind.
Instead, she may have been so in love with him getting to have him as her husband was a profit in itself. She also ends up taking such drastic steps after he marries another woman that it is unlikely she never felt anything for him. As the saying goes, amantes sunt amentes. Her statement does seem to explain her motives, if she is driven only by what she wants – to hurt Jason. And we see this with other men in the play as well.
Creon banishes Medea partly because he fears what plots she is planning. Medea responds, however, saying that really she is not that clever to begin with, and she would never harm a king. He doesn’t buy it. She pleads with him for just one day before she must leave to set up arrangements for her children, and he grants her this while admitting, “Even now I know that I am making a mistake,” (350). The moment Creon leaves, however, she begins plotting the King’s, his daughter’s, and Jason’s deaths. She invokes her own children in an attempt to get what she wants, which is revenge.
Later when talking to Aegeus, again Medea seems act disregarding any relationship for her own desire. Aegeus is introduced as an old friend of Medea, and she uses this for her own advantage. Pretending to fear what will happen to her after she is banished, she begs for Aegeus to allow her safe lodging in his kingdom, and he agrees. Immediately after the conversation, she reveals this is her ‘escape’ plan after committing her crimes.
This leaves the question of is there anything Medea values more than herself, including her desires, in her quest for vengeance? Clearly she is willing to go incredibly far, by killing her own children, but at the heart of her action is a conflict between her desire for vengeance and for her own well being. And in fact, it seems as though she has no gain or profit from all of her actions, as we see, since she ends up alone and even more hopeless at the play’s end. So perhaps it is her thirst for vengeance that drives all of her actions throughout the play.