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Oedipus the King and Mason’s Shiloh

Oedipus the King and Mason’s Shiloh

“Shiloh,” written by Bobbie Ann Mason, and Oedipus the King, written by Sophocles, contain extremely different story lines but jointly have one unique quality, the role of the woman. In each of these stories, the females struggle to overcome one major obstacle plaguing them by using their inner-strength. Norma Jean from “Shiloh” fights to leave a seemingly endless marriage, and Jocasta from Oedipus the King struggles against an ill-fate. Norma Jean and Jocasta believe that they are strong enough to conquer these challenges, but, in the end, they both realize they are not strong enough and commit suicide because of this defeat.

Norma Jean and Jocasta strive to beat the one main obstacle placed before each of them; Norma Jean fights against marriage, and Jocasta struggles against fate. In “Shiloh,” Norma Jean is married to a man with which she cannot live anymore. By strengthening herself mentally and physically, Norma Jean believes that she can leave her husband, Leroy. In preparation for the day when Norma Jean will leave Leroy, she takes a body-building and English composition class. After working out one day Norma Jean explains to Leroy, “I’d give anything if I could just get these muscles to where they’re real hard” (491). Strengthening the mind and body is the only way Norma Jean knows to build her self-esteem and prepare herself for this day that will soon be upon her. On the other hand, Jocasta has always been a mentally strong woman. Jocasta’s battle is against something much more severe than a bad marriage; she battles fate. When Jocasta first had her baby, Oedipus, an oracle declared to Jocasta that “doom would strike him[Laius] down at the hands of a son, / our son, to…

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…r too overwhelming for her. Once again the woman was not strong enough to overcome life’s many challenges.

How does one know if he or she has enough strength? In both of these stories, the women try to battle life using inner-strength. Even though Norma Jean and Jocasta are under extremely different circumstances, both make the same ultimate decision, death. Whether or not death was the right choice, this choice was made by both characters. Their strength was not enough to surpass the problems of life. Works Cited

Mason, Bobbie Ann. “Shiloh.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Sixth edition. Eds. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Harper Collins, 1995.

Sophocles. Oedipus the King. Discovering Literature: Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Eds. Hans P. Guth and Gabriele L. Rico. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1993.

Divine Love in The Canonization

Divine Love in The Canonization

Describing the complexities of love, Pascal states that “the heart has reasons which reason knows nothing of” (qtd. in Bartlett 270). Similarly, in “The Canonization” by John Donne, the speaker argues that his unique love obtains reasons beyond the knowledge of the common man. The speaker relates his love to the canonization of saints. Therefore, he implies that his love is a divine love. In “The Canonization,” the speaker conveys a love deserving of admiration and worthy of sainthood.

In the poem, the lover describes his love as incomprehensible. In the heat of discussion, the lover insults his companion’s intelligence with the statement, “Take you a course, get you a place” (5). The speaker implies that his listener does not possess the adequate amount of intelligence necessary to understand his complex love. Resulting from the listener’s critical comments concerning the speaker’s love, the speaker implores the listener to chide him for his physical features or past mistakes in life. In other words, he tells the listener to deride him for his tangible and superficial flaws, rather than attempt to disparage the inner depths of a love relationship that the listener cannot comprehend.

The speaker expresses the rarity of his love by stating that his love is his occupation and his sole purpose in life. In essence, his love becomes his calling, similar to a saint’s calling from God. Stressing his devotion to his lover, the speaker reveals an astute comparison between the professions of mankind to his own occupation of love:

“Soldiers finde warres, and Lawyers finde out still / Litigious men, which quarrels

move, / Though she and I do love” (16-18). Similar to the profession…

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…y embracing their isolation, they discover the world through each other’s eyes: “Who did the whole world soule extract, and drove / Into the glasses of your eyes” (40-41). Unlike the rest of the world, the two unique lovers find their true identities and ideal desires through reckless abandonment of worldly views.

The comparison between the artificial love of the listener and the divine love of the speaker represents another distinction in the two concepts of love. The divine love of the speaker offers complete devotion, intensity and immortality while artificial love of the listener maintains the placid position of peace. In essence, the love of the speaker creates a model for all other lovers that “Beg from above / A patterne of your love!” (44-45). The love of the speaker in “The Canonization” proves to be a divine love relative to the saints.

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