Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hemingway and Dickenson

The story of Odysseus is one that shows true heroism in any form that the tale is told; the play this weekend clearly demonstrated the power of this incredible tale and introduced me to ideas that were also invoked by the poems, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant-,” “Success is Counted Sweetest-,” “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died,” “Because I could not stop for Death,” by Emily Dickinson and the short story “Hills like White Elephants.” The play brought to life many different virtues and ideas that can be compared to these works of literature and to individuals’ everyday lives. As Odysseus struggles desperately through various obstacles, he is optimistic and determined to return to his family in Ithaca.
The play relates to Emily Dickenson’s poem, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” in several ways. One place where there is a prominent relation is when Odysseus, returns home disguised as a beggar. This part of the story in comparison to Dickenson’s poem brings up various questions of truth and honesty. In one case, when Odysseus returns home he is disguised as a beggar and works his way through all the suitors to his wife and son. He eventually proves himself without removing the disguise and his wife knows that it is him home at last. In this situation Odysseus is being his true self, but he is ‘slanting’ the image. He appears to be someone else, but acts as himself. This leads others to be deceived but he finds out that those who he is important to, truly know him and love him for who he is on the inside. Also at one point Odysseus withholds his name so that he will not be treated in any unfavorable way. In this situation he did not lie, but he did not tell the whole truth. This is partially what is meant in Dickenson’s poem, that when it is wise, don’t tell the entire truth, and that you can learn a lot about how others view you based on the truths you tell.
The entire story is a perfect example of Dickenson’s next poem, “Success is Counted Sweetest.” The constant pain and struggling that Odysseus went through only increased his determination and desire. With each moment of failure, loss or defeat Odysseus is only growing stronger. Although he is constantly being shot down and mislead it is all building towards a sweeter ending. After suffering so much hardship, it is finally relieving and rewarding for him to be with him family. At this point where he is recognized and welcomed home, all of his hardship becomes worth it and he appreciates every moment with his family from then on. This is directly related to Emily’s poem where the idea is spelled out a little more directly. She very simply gets the point across that those who experience loss and defeat experience a greater power of success. If Odysseus had not experienced all those hard times, he would not have appreciated his success at such a high level.
The poem, “I heard a fly buzz—when I died,” and, “Because I could not stop for death,” both very obviously deal with the idea of death. Each poem depicts death in a fairly similar way. The reader comes away with the idea that death is deceiving, lonely and sad. Of course there are other ways that death can be depicted, but in these cases it is certainly more of a negative event. These poems relate to the play in that death is a prominent character in the play. It takes so many lives and threatens so many others that it seems to be a person, similar to the way that it is personified in Dickenson’s poems. More specifically death relates to the latter of the two poems listed in that no one can hide from death, and life cannot be taken for granted because one never knows when there times is up. As death may be a ‘gentleman’ sometimes, there are times where he can show up unannounced. Death’s character in the play the Odyssey is ever present, but does allow Odysseus to continue fighting in order to feel a sweet power of success.
Lastly the play relates to the short story “Hills like White Elephants,” in a much lighter way. I feel that the short story is almost sad but leaves the reader with the moral that you have to do what is right for you, and sometimes ignore the influences of others. If you don’t do something for yourself how can you have the motivation to do it right or finish it? The play clearly depicts someone who is doing everything for himself. If Odysseus wasn’t acting on his own wishes he would have failed early on in the story. Similar to the short story the decisions he makes are based on love, but he makes the decisions without pressure and they are true desires of his own as opposed to making decisions for someone out of pressure and bullying.
Loyola’s version of the Odyssey was based off the original by Homer, which was an incredible piece of literature. This work is so moving and important that it is easily be related to all sorts of works and bring the reader to all sorts of conclusions and morals. Emily Dickenson’s poems and Hemingway’s short story are only a few examples of this; they are very different works but all somehow tie back to this epic play.

No comments: