John-Nicholas Furst 10/07/08

Siren Essay
Through comparison of tone, diction, and point of view, of “Siren Song” by Margaret Atwood and “Odyssey” by Homer, contrasting portrayals of the sirens reveal the hero’s pride in each poem. “Odyssey” is filled with concrete imagery as is seen in lines 9-11, “-erect at the mast-block, lashed by ropes to the mast-….” These vivid images and others come from the pervasive use of nouns. Use of adjectives such as in the phrase, “my two strong hands” are used to intensify the scene and build up the heroic tone. In contrast, “Siren Song” has much more abstract imagery. Compared to the luscious imagery of “Odyssey”, “Siren Song” has only two main images, the “beached skull” and the “bird suit.” The skull imagery is brutal and fatal while the “feathery maniac” image is just ridiculous. However the ridiculousness of the sirens can be tempting to the pride of a hero who only sees the sirens as damsels in distress who need saving, even though they truly are deceptive creatures. The point of view of “Odyssey” is first person, through Odysseus. He is the protagonist of the poem and recounts through his hero’s perspective as exemplified in lines 3-5, “Now with a sharp sword I sliced an ample wheel of beeswax down into pieces….”Odysseus narrates, while making every action that he performed a heroic one, to save his men from the lure of the sirens. “Siren Song” is also in first person, but that is where the similarities end; the

piece is through a siren’s perspective. The siren is the antagonist in the poems and she uses an alluring and self depreciating voice to bring the listeners in. She allures the audience by depreciating herself by making references to her ridiculous “bird suit” and then appeals to the hero’s pride by displaying her helplessness and crying out for help to “Only you, only you….” The tone of “Siren Song” is very deceptive. The siren is crying out for help but we learn in the last lines starting on line 26 that her cry is “a boring song but it works every time.” She doesn’t truly need help, she is only trying to appeal to the pride of the hero who will come and save her. The tone of “Odyssey” is heroic. It portrays the hero Odysseus as strong, brave, and a man of action. The hero’s pride comes out in both poems. In “Siren Song” the siren lures the hero in through his pride. “Odyssey” recounts the pride of a hero through intensifying and glorifying the hero’s actions and leading the reader to believe that one day he may be the “pride and glory” of his own city.

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