Literary Analysis and Comparison of Ulysses and the Sirens and “Siren Song”

Literary Analysis and Comparison of Ulysses and the Sirens and “Siren Song”

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Throughout modern history the ancient Greeks and their stories have influenced our culture and way of life. Many of the ancient Greek myths are those of caution that teach us moral lessons. For example, the myth of Odysseus and the sirens, told by Homer in The Odyssey, teaches us to resist the urge to indulge in temptations. Odysseus and his crew are travelling near the island of the sirens when Odysseus plugs the ears of his crewmates with beeswax and has them tie him to the mast so that he can listen to the sirens’ song and not crash their ship onto the rocks as they pass the island. Odysseus and his crew safely pass the island of the sirens without any casualties and continue on their journey home. Author Margaret Atwood and artist John William Waterhouse both display their brilliant ideas about the myth of Odysseus and the sirens using poetry and painting. Both Ulysses and the Sirens by John William Waterhouse and “Siren Song” by Margaret Atwood use the myth of the sirens to show that during their lives, people often encounter bad temptations that can lead to their demise and should pay no attention to such temptations.
Margaret Atwood wrote and published “Siren Song” in 1974. The poem vividly describes a siren singing a song about a different song, which is irresistible to men. The siren narrating the poem cunningly pretends to sing a harmless song that is actually the irresistible song that she sings about (Nada). The siren wishes to tempt the reader into coming closer to her and feigns helplessness and distress in order to lure the reader onto her island. The siren also compliments the reader in order to coerce them to come closer. Despite the siren’s clearly dark intentions the poem has a somewhat lighter undertone creat...


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...ader in “Siren Song” ultimately falls prey to the siren narrator. Despite many changes to the culture of the western world the morals and ideals of the ancient Greek poets and writers continue on even today just as prevalent as they did before. The influence and prestige of the ancient Greek world still soldiers on even in this rapidly changing modern world and will continue to do so.


Works Cited

"AP Lit." : "Siren Song" by Margaret Atwood along with Analysis. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2014.
"John William Waterhouse Biography." Artble: The Home of Passionate Art Lovers. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.
"John William Waterhouse's Ulysses and the Sirens." John William Waterhouse's Ulysses and the Sirens. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.
"J.W. Waterhouse." Ulysses and the Sirens. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
"Margaret Atwood." Margaret Atwood. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.

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