[DWJ] Fire and Hemlock Question

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Wed Aug 16 11:44:48 EDT 2006

>Greetings All,
>My esteemed mentor suggested I post a question-
>As some of you may remember I am writing my 
>thesis on _Fire and Hemlock_.  At one point I 
>talk about the similarities between Polly and 
>Odysseus.  I write:
>"Forgetting and then remembering is Polly’s 
>Siren-song. As Odysseus broke the spell of the 
>Siren-song by listening and not responding, 
>Polly breaks Laurel’s spell by forgetting and 
>then remembering."

I wrote an essay on F&H and the Odyssey not that 
long ago and am too shattered atm to remember 
much of anything on either.  But I'm pretty sure 
that DWJ wrote that Odysseus broke the spell of 
the Sirens in 'The Heroic Ideal' (right?) and 
also pretty sure that there wasn't any indication 
in the Odyssey itself of their spell having been 
'broken' in any way.  It's just that he used his 
wits to find a way to evade it. I have a hard 
time seeing Polly's succumbing  to forgetting Tom 
as part of her eventual breaking of Laurel's 
spell myself.  Her forgetting is more related to 
the fairy tales like East of the Sun, West of the 
Moon, and the hero's making a mistake which has 
to be rectified at great cost.

>Jackie, the above mentioned mentor (and thesis 
>director), asked me to consider Polly's 
>similarity to Odysseus being his escape from 
>Aeaea, Circe's island where his men were turned 
>into pig, because Odysseus forgot everything for 
>a while when he was there (hope I got that 

I agree with Charlie on this part (though I'm not 
totally sure either) - Odysseus has a pretty good 
time with Circe, though he has, admittedly, put 
in his much longer time stubbornly resisting and 
wanting to get away from Calypso.  Tom's escape 
from his marriage to Laurel is said to be one of 
his likenesses to Odysseus, though DWJ confuses a 
few things about the Odyssey in that essay.  (In 
fact, I thought the mistakes she made were really 
interesting in themselves, as they seemed to fit 
in so well with what the whole heroic ideal idea.)

But no!  Laurel's Calypso - not Mary Field. 
(Though maybe I should save that for arguing with 
the again (but only temporarily) email-less 


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