Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Odyssey

This weekend the Loyola Evergreen Players presented the Odyssey. This adaptation of the play was both appealing and comical to everyone in the audience. The story is written by Homer, and this play was adapted and originally directed by Mary Zimmerman. This is a story Odysseus and the return to his home country of Itacha after he was sent away to fight in the war in Troy. In Itacha Odysseus left his wife Penelope, and his son Telemachus. On the journey back home he encounters many obstacles. He encounters Calypso, the Cyclops, the sirens, the witch Circe, and some others all who test his mental and physical strength, and in some cases killing his men. Through all of these hardships Athena helps him, but Odysseus’s determination and courage is what brings him the most success and eventually to survival. He tricks his enemies, wears disguises, and performs human and super human tasks. As a viewer, you feel for Odysseus because he is just a father and husband who longs for home, but at the same time takes on heroic qualities. While Odysseus is gone for so long his family assumes that he was killed in war, and suitors gather at his house taking his wealth and family. When he returns home he must fight off the suitors with the help of his son, he disguises himself and wins over his wife through completion. Then finally in the end he reveals himself to all and punished those who disrespected him and his family.

This play has been adapted so many times, and is so widely popular because the themes are relatable to many audiences. Similarly to the four poems we just read, “Tell the truth but Tell it Slant”, “Success is counted sweetest”, “I heard a fly buzz-When I died”, and “Because I could not stop for death”, all are written by Emily Dickinson. Just like Odysseus the first poem, “Tell the Truth but Tell it Slant” is emphasizing the importance of telling the truth but cautiously. Odysseus lies about his identity in the beginning of many obstacles because he wants to surprise his offenders, he is just being careful. This is exactly what this poem is saying, and that the teller of truth should be gentle and treat everyone like a child to make sure no one is hurt in the process of truth. In the poem this is used by an example of lightning.

Decisions and sacrifice need to be made in the reading, “Hills like White Elephants” as well. In this reading the American is speaking to his younger girlfriend who is calls Jig, throughout the discussion he tried to convince her to get an abortion. Jig however is distracted at first by the hills in the background; she believes that they look just like white elephants. This distraction however, comes at a very bad time because the two are discussing an important issue. The distraction of the hills is parallel to the distraction the speaker has through the fly in “I heard a fly buzz-When I died’. Even in the most important situations and crucial moments irrelevant details pose as distractions.

Then finally, back to the story of Odysseus’s, who found success throughout his journey never once stopped to recognize it or dwell on his life. The reason for this can be found in the poem “Success is counted sweetest”. This poem exemplifies that those who do not have success place the highest value on it. So since Odysseus was so successful he did not think anything of it, or put himself on a pedestal. Because of all his hardships he was just happy to be alive, and in the final poem “Because I could not stop for death” the speaker embraces death and is content with the idea of dying because they believe that they lived a full life. Odysseus put many of his situations and solutions in the hands of the gods, just as this speaker trusts gods decision with death and is content with it.

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