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Literary Analysis And Comparison Of Ulysses And The Sirens And “Siren Song”

1327 words - 5 pages

Throughout modern history the ancient Greeks and their stories have influenced our culture and way of life. Many of the ancient Greek myths are those of caution that teach us moral lessons. For example, the myth of Odysseus and the sirens, told by Homer in The Odyssey, teaches us to resist the urge to indulge in temptations. Odysseus and his crew are travelling near the island of the sirens when Odysseus plugs the ears of his crewmates with beeswax and has them tie him to the mast so that he can listen to the sirens’ song and not crash their ship onto the rocks as they pass the island. Odysseus and his crew safely pass the island of the sirens without any casualties and continue on their journey home. Author Margaret Atwood and artist John William Waterhouse both display their brilliant ideas about the myth of Odysseus and the sirens using poetry and painting. Both Ulysses and the Sirens by John William Waterhouse and “Siren Song” by Margaret Atwood use the myth of the sirens to show that during their lives, people often encounter bad temptations that can lead to their demise and should pay no attention to such temptations.
Margaret Atwood wrote and published “Siren Song” in 1974. The poem vividly describes a siren singing a song about a different song, which is irresistible to men. The siren narrating the poem cunningly pretends to sing a harmless song that is actually the irresistible song that she sings about (Nada). The siren wishes to tempt the reader into coming closer to her and feigns helplessness and distress in order to lure the reader onto her island. The siren also compliments the reader in order to coerce them to come closer. Despite the siren’s clearly dark intentions the poem has a somewhat lighter undertone created when the siren comically asks, “will you get me out of this bird suit?” and further supported when she calls her two companion sirens, “feathery maniacs” (Atwood 16, Atwood 11-12). The poem drops occasional hints about the true purpose of the siren’s song, such as the mentioning of beached skulls (Atwood 6) and, “the song nobody knows because anyone who had heard it is dead” (Atwood7-9).
Margaret Atwood was born on November 18, 1939 in Ottawa, Ontario and grew up in Northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Victoria College, Toronto University in 1961 and her Masters of Art Degree from Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1962. She continued her studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; however she never finished her dissertation, “The English Metaphysical Romance”. She has taught in universities all over the United States and Canada, including the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She has lived all over the world including the United Kingdom, Italy, France, and Germany. She has written over forty works of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and novels, which have been translated into over forty different languages. Margaret...

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