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The Oedipus Complex in Galatea 2.2

The Oedipus Complex in Galatea 2.2

Helen is in love with Powers; Powers is in love with C.; C. only wants to forget about Powers. This may sound like a soap opera, but in fact it is the love triangle present in Galatea 2.2. This love triangle mirrors Freud’s Oedipal Complex almost perfectly. According to this theory, Richard Powers is Helen’s mother. Like a mother he created her and then taught her how to think for herself. Also in this role reversal of the Oedipal Complex, Helen assumes the role of Power’s son, and C. portrays the absent father. The twisted version of the Oedipal Complex presented in Galatea 2.2 explains the interaction between Powers, Helen, and C. as that of a family, and throughout this depiction the Dialogical Method enhances this image.

In the story of Oedipus he kills his father and then marries his mother. Galatea 2.2 does not present Helen as committing such an outrageous act. C.’s absence in Helen’s life does mirror the absence of Oedipus’ father during Oedipus’ marriage to his mother. Helen never has one on one interaction with C. Her only knowledge of C. is through the love letters that Powers reads to her. It because of this that Helen begins to view C. as a hindrance to her own relationship with Powers. According to Freud, the son wishes to dispose of the father in order to have the attention of the mother solely to himself. This creates a very peculiar relationship to say the least.

Of course, Powers’ relationship with Helen is anything but common. She is after all a computer. He begins their relationship as her teacher. He has a mother’s love for Helen because in her he sees something that he has toiled to create. Powers sounds like a parent when he speaks of Helen’s singing. At one point he describes her voice as, “…an extraterrestrial warble, the way deaf people sing” (198). This does not sound like a sweet sound. The words “music to my ears” are not present in any description of Helen’s singing. Powers knows that Helen cannot carry a tune, but he cannot bear to convey this message to her. He says, “I didn’t have the heart to tell her how unbearable this music sounded” (235). There are very few parents that would actually inform their child about a lack of talent in a certain area.

Ozymandias, King of Nothing

Ozymandias, King of Nothing

In “Ozymandias”, Percy Byshe Shelley relates a description of a mysterious land laid to waste as told to a man by an unnamed traveler. Granted, the poem was written after Shelley had seen ruins of the ancient Egyptian Empire imported to England, but in the poem is something greater, a portrait of a man who built himself during the span of his life to a position of great power, only to be discovered centuries later with nothing but eroded stone to his name. The particular words that Shelley chose to describe a lost, grand and ruined kingdom are all words of powerful connotation. Every adjective, every noun, builds an image of something big and strong, something enormous and indestructible.

An emphasis on physical appearance is blatant. Surfacing first, above the duality and symbolism in the poem, is the immediate call to attention of the physical size and orientation of the statue. This is most notably presented in lines 2 through 4. Although only two words, “vast” and “half,” are specific in relating size, “stand” and “near” connect to project exactly how the “…two vast and trunkless legs of stone” and the “shattered visage” lie. The word vast is not as common as a tired word such as “big”, and helps to describe the sheer monstrosity of the base of the statue of the great king Ozymandias. To simply have two “vast” legs, without the trunk, indicates how imposing the statue must have been when intact. Ozymandias’ head, somewhat fragmented and laid to rot with the sands, is half sunk. Half sunk, yet clearly still able to stir deep emotional response with its “sneer of cold command.” Although the word “half” is not as impressive as “vast” and almost detracts from the imposing…

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…e sculptor, as described by Shelley, carved these two aspects of Ozymandias’ persona into stone.

“Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair,” shouts the platform from which Ozymandias has been reduced to speak. What pride, what arrogance, what kind of (apparently) falsely heightened sense of self-worth did the vast and trunkless legs of stone once support? The answer comes straight from Shelley: “…the lone and level sands stretch far away, boundless and bare; encircling the entirety of a lifeless wreck, nothing beside remain.” This is the kingdom of Ozymandias; the king of nothing, like a playground bully with the rug pulled out from under him years after his defeat. With careful phrasing and well-picked words, Shelley created a mighty ruler, one whose hand carefully and sternly managed and governed an unknown, invisible, and dead nation.

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