Rape Of Proserpina

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The Rape of Proserpina from Ted Hughes’ Tales from Ovid recounts the myth of Pluto, god of the Underworld, who abducts Proserpina, daughter of Ceres, and brings her to the Underworld to live with him. Through this story, the speaking voice that narrates the poem explains that change is a painful but necessary and natural aspect of life by illustrating that stillness is by contrast impossible and unnatural. The speaking voice then illustrates the inevitability of change by comparing it to rape throughout the poem, then by integrating change as a part of a cycle instead of presenting it as a permanent modification by associating cyclical change with harvest and condemning the rape of Proserpina as a disruption of the natural cyclical order.…show more content…
The speaker does this by giving Ceres, who represents change, a substantial role in the poem. Ceres is shown to be representative of change because of her role as goddess of the harvest, which relies on the change of seasons in order to bear its fruits, and on plants changing from seeds into their final forms to be harvested. The speaking voice therefore gives the idea of change a prominent place in the poem by dedicating the poem to Ceres, saying, “I sing of her” (line 7), and therefore indirectly saying that they sing of change. This dedication to Ceres seems strange given that the poem tells the story of Proserpina, but this counter-intuitive dedication serves to reflect how Ceres incarnates the theme of Ovid’s original Metamorphosis, the title of which emphasizes the importance of “bodies changing into other bodies” (Creation, line 2), better than Proserpina does at the beginning of the poem. While Ceres is associated with all the seasons, Proserpina is associated with only a part of the whole cycle, spring. It is even said that Proserpina lives in Pergusa where it is “always spring” (line 90) and that she wants to “stay a virgin” (line 69), the words “always” and “stay” suggesting that she is unwilling to change. This is highlighted by the choice of the title. “The Rape of Proserpina”, rather than simply “Proserpina” like most of the other poems in Tales from Ovid, which are comprised only of character’s names, suggests that Proserpina is not in fact the main character of the poem but rather Ceres, who as a character represents change, which is what is put forward by the
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