Saturday, July 20, 2019

Gender Politics and the Liminality of the Herculean Body Essay

Sophocles’s Women of Trachis11, however, deals solely with the tragic drama occurring on the mortal realm, devoid of any cosmic underpinnings. The play, like Heracles, can be divided into two portions. Unlike Heracles, however, Heracles’s world is divided not so much into the microcosmic and the macrocosmic, but into the masculine and feminine. This division is causal, serving to highlight the tension between the domestic world which values emotion, empathy, and feeling and the heroic world which champions duty, honour, and glory. Despite the evident causality, however, the play is marked by Heracles’s and Deianeira’s seemingly implausible deaths, highlighting the illogical aspect of male and female relations as a whole even outside the striking of the inexplicable cosmic event. In both plays, the Herculean body is the locus of a female tension in which the female struggle at being pushed aside is foregrounded. In Sophocles’s play, Heracles acts like Lycus, ravaging a foreign land in order to marry the king’s daughter. Heracles’s inability to be restored into society due his insatiable appetite for women causes endless issues for Deianeira, as she is left at home wasting with desire†¦ like the mournful nightingale† (107-8) in a â€Å"strange household† (41) for â€Å"fifteen months†¦ without tidings† (46). While the Euripidean hero â€Å"is honourable and, as the play resolves itself, more and more an identifiable man†, â€Å"the Sophoclean suffering hero is repellent as well as distant† (12 Silk)12. While Heracles acts out the hero’s pathos, thus, Women of Trachis views how the self-serving character of the Herculean hero can inflict suffering on the feminine realm by providing the audience with a point of sympathy from the female angle. Like Her... .... While Women of Trachis addresses the position of the feminine in a male-dominated warrior society on a microcosmic level, Heracles also highlights the feminine perspective, only on a macrocosmic level. Both plays, thus, foreground the pathos of the individual in the grips of forces beyond their control when conflicting realms meet and erupt. Heracles’s body, in being a liminal space where definitions of the cosmic and divine are blurred, is the site where the individual’s larger struggle is acted out. Unlike Heracles, however, Women of Trachis proposes the idea that humanism cannot save the day unless the very definitions of what is means to be heroic are changed so the young, helpless and the female are taken into account. In order for the king to be a proper king, he has to leave behind his heroic, divine self and â€Å"choose (Amphitryon) (as his) father† (1265).

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