Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Ransom Death Essay free essay sample

The power of death as a common experience for mortals is further compounded as Malouf advocates that men, even from different socio-economic backgrounds can forge a connection based on their similar emotions, as depicted through Priam’s connection with the ‘ordinary’ carter, Somax. Death, as the final experience of all mortals, is shown to be able to catalyse deeply human connections between men, through which Malouf draws an allusion to the cyclical nature of life and death. Malouf begins his novel by demonstrating the overarching significance of death, and the emotional turmoil it causes, especially to those close to it. Achilles is first displayed not as a mighty warrior, as one would expect from The Illiad, but as a ‘man’, looking out to the shore, with his mind as ‘the most active part of him’. Malouf immediately signals his own interpretation of the text, as he details emotional transformations that are the result of such underlying turmoil. Malouf here demonstrates that the seemingly impenetrable warrior Achilles, who had learnt ‘never to betray what he felt’, can experience truly human emotions. The murder of Patroclus on the battlefield serves as an emotional trigger for Achilles, who is reduced to ‘weep[ing] without restraint’. Such expression of raw, unmediated emotion subverts typical Homeric ideals of role, and hence Malouf establishes that an experience of death can catalyse emotional change which transcends the more simplistic traditional expectations. Similarly, Priam, who is deeply roubled by the murder and savage desecration of his son’s noble body, undergoes a significant emotional change when he receives a vision from the goddess Iris. From his role as a ‘ceremonial figurehead’ who ‘stands still at the centre’, his radical plan can be also be attributed to the significant turmoil he experienced as he watched his son being brutally dragged under the city walls. Priam undergoes such a change that even Hecuba, ‘who knows all [his] doubts and foibles, is shocked by his seemingly outrageous plan to ransom Hector’s body. Hence, Malouf demonstrates the extent of change which can be caused by the heartache associated with loss. The overwhelming power of death in inducing change in humans is advocated throughout Ransom, as Malouf parallels the resulting heartache felt by men, and hence foreshadows the forthcoming unity that men can form over their common experience. Somax’s reaction to the loss of his children is juxtaposed with that of both Achilles and Priam who are extraordinary people living extraordinary lives. Somax is the epitome of simpleness, of humility as he ‘is dazzled by the whiteness’ and ‘hangs his head’. Being ‘A simple folk like him’, Somax is unable to provide for his children as Priam can. He cannot grieve as Priam does as when ‘it’s done, the fleas go biting and the sun comes up again’. Having said this, both can relate to being fathers and to ‘knowing what it is like to lose a son’. Somax too, ‘has a broken heart’ as he ‘stares off into the distance’ and the pain he feels for watch lost son and daughter is palpable. Malouf utilises this connection to highlight the way in which everyone experiences loss in a similar way, no matter status, origin or wealth. The ability to respond to loss varies from person to person, but the reaction of utter sadness is felt by everyone who experiences such tragedy. In the patriarchal society of 8th century Greece, social and class structures played a major role on the lives of its inhabitants, yet through the sharing of their common experience of death, Priam and Somax are able to overcome them to form a basic human connection. At the end of part 2, Malouf chooses to emphasise the contrast between the two men by juxtaposing the regal ‘high ones’ with the ‘rough-cut’ Somax. The significant difference between the two men is highlighted when what Somax perceives as a ‘chickenhawk’ is referred to by his royal company as ‘Jove’s emblem’. Hence, Malouf emphasises the disparity between the ‘representational, ideal’ world of Priam with the more ‘earthly’ Somax. However, once the two men leave their ordinary surroundings and set off on their journey, they are able to connect through the ‘fellow-feeling’ of a ‘father’. In fact, from the very first interaction between the two men, Malouf shows that they find common ground as fathers, with Priam mistaking the physical ransom for his restored son. Immediately, Somax’s ‘heart softens’, as he empathises with the feelings of a lost son. This is further compounded through Somax’s vivid and emotive recollections of his sons’ deaths, which results in Priam’s ‘eyes moisten[ing]’. Priam, who was previously held aloof from truly human interactions in his role as king is finally able to express honest emotion, predominantly catalysed by the evocations of the tragic deaths of Somax’s sons. Through this newfound unity which these two men share through their tragic experiences of their sons’ death, Priam is able to be ‘restored’ as ‘a man remade’. In doing so, Malouf endorses the ideal that men can forge connections based on common experience, of which the most intrinsic is death. Malouf demonstrates the liberation achieved when one can finally accept their death, a ‘fee paid in advance’ for mortals. He suggests that grief can only be sated when one truly accepts the undeniable nature of death as a part of the human life cycle. The release of this outrage is the source of monumental emotional change, as shown by the shift in Achilles’ thinking. Hector, as an ‘implacable enemy’ to Achilles is ultimately ‘no longer an affront’ to him as they sit in ‘perfect amity’, demonstrating the extent of Achilles’ change. Where initially he could not even entertain the thought of respect for Patroclus’ killer, through his meeting with Priam he understands the value of honour in death, and is united not only to Priam, but also to Hector himself. This change can also be attributed to the effects of the modern re-assessment of The Illiad, where the traditional black-and-white world the characters inhabit changes dynamically into a shifting one, where conventional roles become less defined. Through this confrontation, Malouf is able to reiterate that â€Å"death is in our nature†¦ and for that reason†¦ we should have pity for one another’s losses†, thus alluding to the inevitability of death, and the power acceptance of this fate can have on drastically changing one’s life.

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