Language And Imagery In Ransom's The Iliad

1529 Words 7 Pages
How does Malouf’s characterisation and use of language and imagery in Ransom reaffirm the reader’s belief in the human spirit?
David Malouf’s reinterpretation of Homer’s Greek classic, The Iliad, specifically Book 24 focuses not on the war and battles of Troy, but on Priam’s journey with Somax and the transformation of human nature that follows. Whilst journeying to collect Hector’s body and give ransom, Somax introduces Priam to the life of the common people. He learns what it means to be human and what it means to be a father. Imagery plays a very important role in the way Malouf tells this journey. The act of ransom, the traditional meanings of ransom and the view that the ransom is a ‘fee paid in advance for life’ (184)1 allow Priam
…show more content…
I believe Malouf uses the idea of ransoming to represent a divided self and interests. This is shown through a scene from Priam’s childhood; a scene critical to Priam’s rebirth in becoming king. After Heracles sacked Troy, under Priam’s father’s rule, after all of Priam’s brothers were killed and Priam became one of the refugee children trying to escape death. He was given as a gift, from Heracles to Priam’s sister, Hesione, and Priam became “the price paid, the gift given to buy his brothers back from the dead” (74). He reminds that “The gift was given and taken back again, and only in a left handed joking way was it restored” (77). Heracles had changed Priam’s name from Podarces to Priam, as a constant reminder of the humiliation he had endured. This ransoming of himself, serves as a constant reminder of his distant and removed self-interests, shown through displacement and loss. Ultimately this experience is what leads Priam to journey to retrieve Hector’s body, and find his true self that is divided. Malouf’s imagery positions me to reflect on my own obsession with self and how this focus sometimes makes me less empathetic to wider issues that are occurring in the world. Malouf 's writing has therefore helped me gain …show more content…
But unlike Priam, who grieves as a king through traditional custom and law, Somax has been exposed to the raw intimacy of loss and Priam speculates that this is the reason Somax accompanies him on the journey: “The phrase he had taken up so easily, that he knew what it was to lose a son, really did mean the same for him as it did for the driver” (136). Beauty, one of Somax’s mules, was the reason for Somax’s son’s death as she had “knocked him sideways” (140). Somax expresses that “he felt like punching her” (141) but, unlike Achilles and Hector, he comforts her instead, feeling grief at his son’s death but joy over Beauty’s survival. Somax forgiveness of Beauty is one of the most important lessons for Priam and indeed one of the most important lessons I have taken from Ransom. Through Somax forgiving Beauty and Achilles and Priam reaching a mutual understanding, Malouf truly positions the reader to realise that if humans were prepared to forgive their fellow man, no matter the circumstances, the world would be a better

Related Documents