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Essay about The Effect of the Sirens

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The characters in Greek Mythology have multiple interpretations. Among these characters include the dangerous, yet gorgeous Sirens, bird-women who sit on a cliff singing bewitching songs that captivate the minds of innocent travelers and entice them to their deaths. In Homer’s The Odyssey and Margaret Atwood’s “Siren Song,” both poets provide different representations of the Sirens. Homer portrays the Sirens as irresistible in order to establish men as heroes, whereas Atwood depicts them as unsightly and pathetic so she can prove men are foolish and arrogant using imagery, diction, and point of view.
Homer depicts the Sirens as intriguing and desirable because he considers Odysseus as valiant. Homer describes Odysseus’ “'heart inside [him is throbbing] to listen longer,'” suggesting the seductive power of the Sirens (20). The effect of his heart throbbing verifies that Odysseus longs to be with the Sirens, forging an image of a man struggling against his will in order to be near a beautiful temptress. This implies that the Sirens are irresistible and cunning because they are able to deceive the men into falling for them with just one song. Odysseus craves to hear the Siren’s magical song and stay alive, so he has his men physically “bind [him] faster with rope on chafing rope” (24). The immense effect that the Sirens have on him is great, and the fact that the rope is irritating his skin illustrates the effort Odysseus is making to be with the Sirens. Throughout this particular scene, Odysseus attempts to join the Sirens, without realizing the terrible consequences. The temptresses are so “ravishing” and no man can resist their beauty (19). They are so attractive that they have the ability to lure in innocent men and watch them ...


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...s to women and cannot control their egotistical ways.
Homer portrays the Sirens as beautiful while Atwood considers them as ugly. By using imagery, diction, and point of view, Homer and Atwood determine whether the men are smart or not and if the Sirens are irresistible or just repulsive. The significance of comparing these two pieces is that the reader can see the authors’ two very different interpretations of men and women’s role in their fate. The depiction of women has changed tremendously over time. In the past, woman were blamed for the downfall of men and being temptresses, but now hold high positions of power and are able to vote. Comparing these two pieces gives insight into how to resolve the never-ending “Battle of the Sexes.” The answer is to compromise. Homer and Atwood’s portrayal of the Sirens prove that to each their own, interpretation that is.



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