Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ancient vs. Modern Day Heroes

Heroes during current times often reflect many of the same plot points as ancient hero stories. Despite these similarities between ancient and current heroes, there are several differences. As the times change, the stories change with them, often reflecting what is important at that time. One example of this is the similarities between the Avengers and the Odyssey. Both of these stories, as well as many other stories, have plots that follow the timeline of a hero. However, there are several key differences between each story.

The heroes in both the Avengers and the Odyssey follow the journey of a hero. In fact, this is true with almost all story plots. Both stories begin with the call to adventure. In the Avengers, this is when Loki steals the Tesseract and Fury calls the Avengers out of hiding to help stop him. In the Odyssey, this can be interpreted as the point in which Odysseus is called out to sea to fight in the Trojan War. However, this event occurs eighteen years before the book starts, so a more relevant call to adventure would be the point in which Calypso is forced to release Odysseus from her island and allow him to take the perilous journey home. In the Avengers, one example of refusal to call is made by Bruce Banner, fearing that he will harm people if he transforms into the Hulk. An example of refusal of the call in the Odyssey was Odysseus’s reluctance to leave Calypso’s island for fear that she was up to no good. The Avengers meet their mentor, Thor, who, as the brother of the God of Trickery, helps reveal his weaknesses to help them defeat Loki. Odysseus’s mentor is less of a conscious mentor, and more of a guide. Athena helps keep Odysseus alive by planting survival skills in his mind. The big ordeal in the Avengers was the large battle between the Avengers and Loki. The big ordeal in the Odyssey is Odysseus’s difficult and perilous journey back home from Calypso’s island in which he is bombarded with obstacles by Poseidon.  Finally, all of the heroes return victorious to their ordinary worlds with their elixirs.

Besides the fact that the heroes in the Avengers and the Odyssey, not to mention the hundreds of other plots, follow the same journey of a hero, there are many direct allusions to ancient mythological heroes in current books and movies such as the Avengers. For example, Loki, the Norse God of Mischief, is the antagonist in the Avengers. He plays many of the same wicked roles that he does in Norse myths. In the Norse myth, The Death of Balder, Loki plays the part of the evil God who is trying to create mischief and chaos in Asgard and Midgard by causing the death of the great Balder. Similarly, in the Avengers, Loki is attempting to steal the Tesseract and give it to the Other, in exchange for an army of Chitauri that he can use to wreck havoc on the earth. Additionally, the movie the Avengers incorporates Thor, the Norse God of Thunder who is a much more benevolent God than Loki. In both the death of Balder, and the Avengers, he aids the protagonists in defeating Loki and returning things back to normal. We can see these direct allusions to mythology in many other hero stories as well; such as the Greek Gods in Percy Jackson, or the more subtle use of the Norse Gods in Lord of the Rings.

 However, there are a few differences between ancient hero stories, such as the Odyssey, and current hero stories, such as the Avengers. There are many aspects of the world that were central to people’s lives during ancient times that are simply irrelevant nowadays. For example, when Odysseus was missing for several years, there was fear that there would be an uprising and someone would forcibly take over the kingdom. In most countries today, this is not an issue. We now have elected rulers; so if someone such as the President were to disappear, we would have another elected official, such as the Vice President, replace him. There are also aspects of the world today that were not issues during ancient times. For example, during the attack towards the end of the movie the Avengers, the government attempts to set off a nuclear bomb to wipe out Loki’s army and prevent it from spreading around the world. Iron Man then has to remove the nuclear weapon and send it back through the portal to save the city. During ancient times, heroes did not have to worry about weapons, such as nuclear bombs, that could kill entire populations.

Ancient hero stories are often reflected into hero stories of today. There are many basic hero archetypes that are carried throughout the years. Some of these include the hero’s journey, or even the direct use of ancient heroes such as the use of the Norse God of Lightning, Thor, as one of the protagonists in the Avengers. There are also aspects of these stories that are different. The details of the plots often change as the important aspects of the world change, which is what keeps them relevant and interesting.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Odyssey Bellwork 9-19-12

Eighteen years, its been eighteen long years since I have seen my husband Odysseus. Telemachus was just an infant when he left; by now he is a respectable young man. Everyone keeps telling me that Odysseus is dead, but I refuse to believe that. One day, maybe even some day soon, my dear husband will come back and bring our kingdom back to order.

I have to admit, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stall for Odysseus. We constanly have suitors in our palace, trying to gain my hand in marriage, and the power of the kingdom. I keep trying to convince everyone that Odysseus is alive and that he will return one day, but no seems to take me seriously. Despite my protests, hundreds of men stay in our palace, eating our food  and cleaning us dry. It saddens me to see how this effects Telemachus, but I simply cannot choose a new husband while I know in my heart that my current husband is still alive. I know that I could force them all to leave, but I fear that I may start great unrest in the kingdom by doing that.

Instead, I devised a clever plan that would give Odysseus time to come home. I promised to choose a new king as sooon as I finished weaving a burial shroud for my father in law. Day after day, I would sit down and work on the burial shroud. Howver, I did not want to choose someone, and I needed to stall for Odysseus' return. So at night, I would carefully unravel the threads that I had weaved the night before. My plan worked well for several years, that is, untill the suitors figured out what I was doing. I expected them to be furious and rebel against the kingdom; but to my surprise, they did not. Instead, they all sit around and talk with Telemachus, day in and day out. To be honest, this scares me more than if they were to revolt. I cannot even imagine what they could be planning.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Kingdom Apart

Once there was a land by the name of A Kingdom Apart. This kingdom was full of sparkling lakes, rolling hills, and joyful people. The Queen of this land, Helen, was a beautiful and extremely kind ruler. She loved all of her subjects and cared for every single one of them. There also lived a young duchess, Whitney, who was a distant cousin of Queen Helen. Some other members of the royal court included Sabrina the Sweet, Janet the Joyous, and Hannah the Helpful. Whitney, Sabrina, Janet, and Hannah all had their own section of the kingdom to look after, and they each cared for it attentively.
However, there was a part of the kingdom that was not so beautiful and pleasant. This region was ruled by the mysterious sister witches, Debra and Donna. These sisters were very mischievous and loved to start trouble in the kingdom.
One day, Queen Helen realized that her kingdom was in great debt. She knew that she needed to fix it, but she had no idea how. She tried for many months to pull her lovely kingdom out of debt, but to no avail. Her subjects, and even her royal court, were starting to become impatient and angry with her. There were even rumors that the duchess was going to try to steal the crown. Queen Helen realized that she had only one place to turn, Debra and Donna. She knew that getting help from them would be risky, but she was desperate to get her kingdom back to the way it was when it was prosperous and the people were happy.
So Helen set out on the journey to find the witches. When she arrived, the sisters were eager to help her, realizing that this was their chance to be a part of the ruin of A Kingdom Apart. After days of mixing and chanting, Debra and Donna sent Queen Helen back to her kingdom and told her to go to sleep. When she woke up, she would have the intelligence and the power to know exactly what to do to save her kingdom from debt.
When the Queen awoke, she felt like a new person. She felt more powerful and in control than ever before, so she decided to call a meeting with her royal court. Come to find out, Duchess Whitney had taken over control while she was gone. The queen was absolutely outraged, she was furious that her own cousin would betray her like that. In reality, Duchess Whitney was only trying to help the Queen keep the kingdom in order while she was away; but Helen could not see this, because she was corrupted with power by the witches. In retaliation, Queen Helen banned Whitney from the kingdom, forcing her to leave the land immediately. However, all of Whitney’s subjects, along with Janet and her subjects, as well as Hannah and her subjects, remained loyal to Duchess Whitney. After so many of her subjects left, Queen Helen became even more furious. Corrupted with both power and anger, Helen allowed Debra and Donna into her kingdom to help advise her in her rule. This was the biggest mistake that she could have made, because the mischievous witches led the Queen and her remaining subject directly into the lions den. A Kingdom Apart fell into such great debt that Queen Helen and her subjects were forced to leave.
Although it saddened the duchess to see her once beloved cousin so corrupted, she was happy that she and her new Kingdom, Duchess Kingdom of Vienna (named so to represent the respect for her royal court, Janet and Hannah, that Queen Helen had been lacking), could move back into the old land. However, when they got there, the land had been destroyed by Helen and her witch advisors. They had broken all the windows, slashed the floors, and set fire to all of the crops. The ruins of the old kingdom were the saddest sight that you could ever see. Whitney, the new Queen, was so disheartened by the sight that she had a day remembrance for the old Queen, whom she regarded as passed away. After months of restoring the land, the subjects of Duchess Kingdom of Vienna were allowed back to live happily ever after in the new, prosperous kingdom, ruled by the generous and loving Queen Whiney.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Delirium Archetype Essay

According to Jung, an archetype is an inherited, unconscious pattern of thought. We are all born with certain thought and ideas about life that guide us through our experiences. Most of these ideas fit into molds that will often repeat themselves several times within our lives. These patterns will often show up in literature.

One example of an archetype is the Shadow. The shadow is essentially a projection of ourselves. However, it is not the projection of the self that we typically like to think of ourselves as, in fact, it is just the opposite. The Shadow symbolizes the part of ourselves that we tend to deny exists, such as an evil side or a weak side, projected onto other objects or beings.

This archetype is present in Lauren Oliver's Delirium. Oliver writes of a world in which every citizen within the city limits of the U.S. fears love to the point of considering it a disease to be avoided at all costs. This represents the fear that every human has of getting hurt when it comes to love. Oliver takes that intrinsic fear and projects it onto the authorities and scientists. She ostracizes them, making it seem outrageous for so many people to fear love. In reality, though, we are all afraid of love in one way or another.

There are many different archetypes, or subconscious patterns of thought. One prime example is the Shadow. This archetype represents the projection of our own fears and insecurities on others. Lauren Oliver perfectly portrays the shadow of human's fear of love in her novel Delirium. The image that she paints of a whole country of people who are greatly apprehensive towards love seems outrageous and unfathomable to the readers. However, deep down, we are all afraid of being hurt in the face of love.