Hero and Brodsky Essay

Submitted By meisenbeis
Words: 1480
Pages: 6

Madisun Eisenbeis
Professor Jeffrey Hole
5 March 2015
Masterpieces/World Literature
Reconstruction of Odysseus In modern society, it is popular for a man to be held in high esteem for leaving his homeland in order to fight for it. After centuries of humans embracing an “us versus them” mentality, it isn’t surprising war still exists today. It is only recently that an important discussion has been sparked; soldiers come away from war doused with nobility, but at what cost, if not their lives? An arm and a leg perhaps, but maybe, frighteningly often, something more valuable: a major facet of their life. In his poem “Odysseus to Telemachus,” Joseph Brodsky addresses this pending question. With a personal take on exile, our author is well-equipped to set a twist on the character at hand, and offer an alternative point of view on war that is typically ignored when telling tales of heroism. Using careful diction and deliberate organization of ideas, Joseph Brodsky establishes a realistic tone of remorse in regards to war, which is strongly supported by his own experiences. Traditionally in Greek literature, war-goers know their purpose could lie nowhere else. Their stories are typically told from the beginning of and the duration of the war, and focus on the soldier’s conflicts and matched resolutions. Going away to war is almost always perceived as an honorable and noble act. Brosky, however, does not focus on this aspect of the soldier’s life or mentality. While his speaker is based on the heroic figure from Homer’s The Odyssey, Brodsky’s Odysseus takes on a completely different persona. Instead, his Odysseus is given a voice after the war, and he expresses sentiments of remorse and disconnection- caused by his going away to war and thus a painful separation from his family. It is evident our character feels these things, but it is curious as to why Brodsky would take a hero, only to transform him into a most pitiable man. The answer lies in the connection Brodsky draws between himself and Odysseus. While it may be a thin thread that ties the two together, it allows him to completely reconstruct the character while still maintaining the character’s history. Strangely enough, our fictional hero’s twisted trials and tribulations strike familiar tones with Brodsky’s life experiences. Joseph Brodsky lived in twentieth century Russia in his early life. It proved to be an unforgiving place for someone who appreciated the arts, but this would not keep him from practicing what he loved. After being reprimanded for "social parasitism," he was exiled from his homeland. Much like Odysseus, he was sent away from the comfort of his home for a purpose he believed in. It is not surprising Brodsky has his Odysseus feel the things he does, because the emotions conveyed are very real. Brodsky plays on his own feelings to reveal the hidden aspect of war that Homer does not bring to the table. His deliberate use of vocabulary implies that Odysseus' separation from home has made his life painful and desolate. There are various groups of words that contribute to this concept, however. The first to focus on are time and memory. In the first stanza, Odysseus reflects on the 10 year war, but says he does not remember who emerged victorious. It is highly unlikely his memory fails him, but rather refuses to function when the products of remembrance are so painful. Today, we have a name for this phenomenon. Post traumatic stress disorder often causes a person to avoid revisiting past events in an effort to heal wounds of the heart and mind. By including this issue of misremembering, Brodsky emphasizes Odysseus' desire to truly forget what has happened, and his suffering in knowing it did. The second stanza seems to be a recollection of all the places he's visited on his journey, and his memory of them also is clouded and dark. He says, "I don't know where I am or what this place is," and "all islands resemble one another." Again, the concepts