Homer’s Iliad can be used as a lens through which to view Rambo: First Blood. The use of the Iliad’s protagonist Achilles as a comparison to Rambo further illuminates the complexities in the character struggle of Rambo. Whereas Achilles has eternal kleos glorified through Homer’s song to gain by taking vengeance and fighting, Rambo will never be seen as an honorable heroic veteran of war. Rambo is an ostracized and disillusioned man who struggles not for honor but for survival in the “civilized” United States just as he did in war torn Vietnam.
In neither Rambo: First Blood, nor the Iliad, are the protagonists compelled into action voluntarily; though by fighting Achilles had more to gain than Rambo. Although, Achilles withdrew from war he was bound to fight for several reason. He had an oath to Menelaus to rescue Helen. He wished for vengeance against the incompetent leader Agamemnon who was responsible for stealing Achilles geras, Briseis. Agamemnon action of taking a geras he did not earn effectively invalidated the entire cultural system of winning time, honor. The final straw that compelled Achilles to fight was the death of his beloved comrade Patrokles. Achilles fought for a personal vengeance against the Trojans. The greatest of the Trojan soldiers and closest match to Achilles was Hektor and thus Hektor became Achilles target. Even as a reluctant fighter Achilles by taking action would receive kleos, eternal glory though song. The price of Achilles kleos, would not be small. Achilles’ fate was decided by his action towards war, as he was destined to live either a long life with no kleos, or a short life with infinite kleos and time.
Whereas Rambo is displayed as reluctant fighter only engaging when others have drawn the “first blood.” Rambo does not have kleos to gain neither in his efforts in Vietnam nor by fighting against Sheriff Teasle. Instead Rambo acts for survival. He is chased into the forest and hunted like a wild animal by Sheriff Teassle. Rambo, as a veteran of gorilla warfare in Vietnam is very adept to use any and all resources around him to aid him in survival. Rambo set up traps to injure but not kill Teasle’s men. In the film Rambo desperately pleads with Teasle to “let it go,” he is a reluctant fighter who knows his own power and does not wish to be pushed to action, “could have killed them all. I spared you. Don’t push it. I could give you a war you wouldn’t believe – Let it go, let it go!” Before Rambo went on his aristeia, a series of prolonged and successful killing, he gave the Teasle’s men many chances to surrender their efforts. Though both Rambo and Achilles are originally reluctant to engage with their enemy, Rambo’s decision to fight is not a decision to fight for glory but rather a natural human instinct for survival.
By using the Trojan War as a lens through which to view Rambo’s psychological war in Vietnam and subsequently his homecoming serve as an extension to further analyze the hardships of...