Essay 2 Ransom

Crystal D'Souza
Note by Crystal D'Souza, updated more than 1 year ago
Crystal D'Souza
Created by Crystal D'Souza almost 8 years ago
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English Note on Essay 2 Ransom, created by Crystal D'Souza on 09/30/2013.

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‘All men have a shared capacity for grief – and love’. Discuss in relation to Malouf’s Ransom. In David Malouf’s Ransom, the love and sorrow that each character feels is variable in its potency but consistent in that they are shared feelings. Malouf allows Priam and Achilles on a journey where they discover their humanity, because though all are capable of experiencing grief and love, they do not or cannot always allow themselves to do so. Added, though every character feels love and anguish, the strength and volume of it is determined greatly by the individual. However, once acquired or released, both emotions are intense enough to drive men to both terrible and good deeds, though Malouf gives a positive outcome for the acceptance of these feelings. The dehumanising effect of war and the ridged societal expectations of this ancient setting have to be broken to allow an individual to feel the full capacity of love and grief. Malouf, throughout the novella, refers to Achilles with predatory metaphors such as ‘jackal’ and to the men he commands with terms such as ‘wolves’ to highlight the effect the war has had on them. Their confinement on this beach for the nine year Trojan War Malouf describes as “death to the warrior spirit” because they commit acts that goes against nature intends. Thus Achilles is caught between the drudgery of battle and the part of himself that loves, that which grieves daily for the loss of his “soul mate” Patroclus. He is consumed by anger and rage at Patroclus’ death and cannot see past it. Priam too, is capable of love, shown in the tenderness he had for Hecuba, but his grief, as Achilles, is repressed and misshapen. He fasts for eleven days and pours “fistfuls of dust” over his head because that is what he “saw fit to his grief”. Both men could feel these deep emotions but had either traded them for emotions they could manage or repressed them. Therefore the journey that Priam undertakes with Somax, the “interest” and the “curiosity” he learns to feel for the first time, awakens the sense of love and a better understanding of grief in both himself and in Achilles, who learns from him. Priam learns what true love looks and feels like and conveys that to Achilles, who until then, had the stereotypical warrior image to conform to, and could not allow a ‘weakness’ such as love, to show. It also awakens the bonds between fathers and sons, a bond that Malouf advocates as vital. The love Achilles had for his father Peleus is brought back to him as he mistakes Priam for Peleus. Priam's love for his son Hector also frees Priam and Achilles from their own "smoky poison and allows them to be human and feel as a human does. Therefore, though Malouf does illustrate all men have the ability to love and grieve, he marks these feelings as a deep human trait that needs for each individual who experiences it to first discover their true human selves. The potency of love and grief is also explored by Malouf through Somax and his interactions with Priam. Malouf utilities contrast to show the differences between Priam, the Noble King and Somax, a "rough" looking man in his "homespun robe" and "broken sandals". The exist at two different points of society's spectrum and these vast differences show how grief and love can be expressed so differently. Somax felt love for his children, and remember ever moment with them, whereas Priam could not remember Troillus playing with his dog head dagger, dismissing it as "women's talk,". Due to their differences, Somax and Priam both had different meanings and therefore depths to their love for their family. Achilles too was driven to commit an act of blasphemy, against the gods and against men, as if "gripped" by some god that had "darkened his mind". The use of such descriptive, lyrical language by Malouf emphasises the power of Achilles' love for Patroclus. He loved him so much, as a dear friend, that he was controlled by that love. When contrasted against Priam's love for Hector it is shown in a different in a different light as Priam's feelings were calmer and more discrete than Achilles'. 

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