Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Odyssey

The play of The Odyssey by Homer was performed at Loyola College this weekend.  This amazing journey follows Odysseus as he tries to return home after the Trojan War.  Along with this great story, 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” reflect similar experiences and expressions expressed throughout The Odyssey.  Certain scenarios in the play are great examples as to what Dickinson is trying to convey through her poems. 

The play is about the struggle for Odysseus to return home after ten years, while before fighting in the Trojan War.  Back in Ithaca, his home, his son Telemachus and wife Penelope wait on their last bit of hope for him to finally rejoin them back home.  With Odysseus being captured by Calpso, he his finally set free by the order of the gods for him to make his way home.  However, multiple obstacles block his path as he ends up washed up on a shore on the land of the Phaeacians, where they humbly accept him into his home and says his travels and how he has multiple times nearly escaped death.  Before hand however, he does not reveal his name to them for fear of not being returned with the same hospitality he had been receive as a disguised beggar.  This is what the poem “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant--,” is describing with being cautious about revealing the truth and as said in the poem “The Truth must dazzle gradually.”  Along with this, the theme of death is very present in many of the poems by Dickinson as Odysseus faces it many times in his travels.  Each of the times Odysseus is successful in his attempts to escape this death.  With his desire to return home to his son and wife and his overcoming of death, his “success is counted sweetest”.  The poem “Success is counted sweetest” reveals how much great success feels for those that have not succeeded.  Odysseus’ ten-year captivity has been his dry time for success and when he moves in any direction, it is counted as his success.   Both of the other poems “Because I could not stop for Death--,” and “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died--,” talk about death as well along with the others.  The first of these discusses death in an immortal (the Odyssey’s gods and Odysseus being commonly mistaken for being immortal) way with traveling along with Death and moving towards Eternity.  The next examines how at the moments right before death, someone can notice the smallest of the things that are happening.  Before being on their deathbed, one may not notice a fly that lands on them, but does with a moment of their own death.  Just along with all this talk of death, the short story “Hills like White Elephants” brings up the question of abortion.  The woman seems to be reluctant about the abortion while the man seems to be very in favor of it.

 The death theme seemed very prominent in most of the works discussed for this analysis.  Each of the poems, play, and short story, were connected in some way to the experiences that death can create. 

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