[DWJ] Fire and Hemlock Question

Dorian E. Gray israfel at eircom.net
Wed Aug 16 14:30:00 EDT 2006

Rene asked...
> 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'm not sure about this comparison.  Admittedly, I've only ever read a 
kiddies' version of the Odyssey, and that the best part of 30 years ago, but 
IIRC the song of the Sirens was effected by listening to it; it wasn't to 
*make* the hearer listen.  Whereas Laurel's spell was to *make* Polly 
forget; it wasn't effected by her forgetting.  And didn't Odysseus *resist* 
the Sirens' spell-song (by being tied to the mast)?  Whereas Polly does 
actually succumb to Laurel's spell (by saying "yes, all right, I'll forget 
him" - and then unconsciously twists it by adding the clause "just leave me 
alone"), and only later manages to *break* it (probably because of the 
"leave me alone" clause and the fact that Seb didn't).

So I don't really think that this comparison holds up...feel free to explain 
to me why it does, though!

> 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 right).

I don't really remember this episode, but I think the question would be 
whether Circe *made* Odysseus forget, or whether he just let things slip 
because he was having fun.  If the former, then you can probably make 
connections - but who are Polly's men who are turned into pigs?  Can we put 
Ivy and Reg in here?  Nina?  Leslie?  If the latter, maybe not so much. 
(And didn't Odysseus manage to get his men back from being pigs?  I don't 
think Polly gets to "un-pig" anyone.)

I'm sorry I don't know the Odyssey better, but this was interesting to think 
about anyway, so thank you!

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian E. Gray
israfel at eircom.net

"I will not trust you, I,
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray;
My legs are longer though to run away."
-Wm. Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" 

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