Analysis Of Narcissus And Echo

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Narcissus Forced to Face a Brutal Reality Was there ever a moment in your childhood when your dreams were shattered and you were forced to come to terms with a harsh reality of the world? In “Narcissus and Echo,” a section of Ovid's epic poem, Metamorphosis, Ovid details a particularly brutal coming-of-age narrative: that of Narcissus. Narcissus is a gorgeous-looking adolescent who attracts the love of men and women alike, but the love of all of his suitors is unrequited because Narcissus turns them all down. One day, as a thirsty and exhausted Narcissus drinks from a spring, he sees his reflection in the water and falls in love with it. Later, in a moment when he confronts reality and his dreams are shattered, he realizes that the boy…show more content…
After staring at his reflection and lamenting the unattainable nature of “the boy in the water's” love, Narcissus suddenly realizes that the boy in the water is himself: “In wild distress he ripped the top of his tunic aside / and bared his breast to the blows he rained with his / milk-white hand” (Ovid lines 480-482). By choosing word's like “wild” and “ripped,” Ovid conveys the untamed, uncontrollable nature of Narcissus' rage. The term “wild” evokes imagery of a wild animal or creature, emphasizing his primitive, instinctual state of mind. The act of “ripping,” an aggressive, forceful action, furthers this image of Narcissus as being unable to be restrained. Ovid's use of simile to compare Narcissus' self punishment to “rain” demonstrates the numerous nature of the blows, but rain is also a rich symbol that can be read multiple ways. Rain could represent nature, life, and cleansing, which would suggest that despite the painful nature of the transformation, there is a natural, necessary element to the transformation's occurrence. Rain could also be seen as an ominous, unrelenting force, which would yield a much more negative, destructive interpretation to Narcissus'…show more content…
Through Narcissus, Ovid warns that the shattering of one's imagination can be painful to the point of fatality. In children, the effects of a shattered imagination are extremely harmful, which is why children try to hold on to this reality. In Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Alice, unlike Narcissus, doesn't confront the strange reality of Wonderland, rather she preserves her imagination against all odds. Amongst a disturbing, violent world, where a Queen of Hearts calls for the decapitation of many citizens of Wonderland including Alice, Alice holds on to her child-like reality, using logic that adults would likely find faulty, such as her belief that if a bottle doesn't say poison on it, then it must be fine to drink. I would imagine that if Alice, like Narcissus, had her youthful reality shattered, she would be devastated. The youthful imagination of children is full of emotion and wonder, but as Ovid shows us in “Narcissus and Echo,” it can also be highly destructive when

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