Interpretation of "Medusa"

Interpretation of "Medusa" - Anthony Campbell Professor...

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Anthony Campbell Professor Vandermey ENG-045 4 April 2008 An Interpretation of Vincent O’Sullivan’s ‘Medusa’ Of the various heroes of Greek mythology, Perseus was one of the first, and perhaps the most unique. Contrary to the majority of Greek heroes, Perseus achieves his heroic status by aiding and being aided by women. This counters the usual ideal of a hero necessarily distancing himself from women who are perceived as distractions or threats. However, as a hero, Perseus must accomplish heroic tasks, the first of which is the retrieval of the head of Medusa, one of the Gorgons. There are various stories regarding the origin of Medusa. Some claim her and the Gorgons were the offspring of a Titan union. Some claim she was the product of Poseidon’s rape of Demeter. Others claim she was one of Poseidon’s lovers that Athena transfigured when she caught her and Poseidon in her temple. Regardless of how she came to be, her universal characteristics are her snakes for hair, and her gaze that could turn men to stone. Most know at least that much about Medusa and upon interrogation will posit her as a monster, inherently evil. However, Vincent O’Sullivan challenges societal pretensions in his poem entitled simply, “Medusa”. The entirety of this poem is a description of Perseus’ arrival to slay Medusa from the third person limited perspective of Medusa herself. The poem begins by utilizing the title as the subject of the first line: “[Medusa] Sits at the window, waits the threatened steel…” Apparently, Medusa is actively waiting for Perseus and his deadly sword. As she waits she hears and sees birds in the trees, as well as a songbird on the ground. She entertains the thought of seeing the
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bird eye to eye, how it might come to her beckoning gaze. Already, Perseus’ sword is at her neck but she holds still. It is evening time, and she hears his footsteps and feels the air he displaces as he moves.
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This essay was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course ENG 045 taught by Professor Vandermey during the Spring '08 term at Westmont.

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Interpretation of "Medusa" - Anthony Campbell Professor...

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