Morphology Of A Folktale And The Battle Of Two Heroes

1118 words - 5 pages

Myths are often times very complex and difficult to understand, so in order to attain a better understanding of a myth we apply certain strategies and techniques, such as Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale, to ensure a more effective or deeper understanding of a myth. Propp’s structuralist approach, when used to analyze the Iliad, creates a very streamlined outline of what should occur throughout the story; however, as Professor Jamison has made very clear during lecture, the things that stand out are what one is supposed to look into. The structured outline makes it much more feasible to pin point the instances that stand out, and because of that one is able to further analyze that specific instance and find its significance in the myth.
In the book twenty-two of the Iliad, the two great warriors Achilleus and Hektor clash and Achilleus is triumphant. Thereafter, the question arises of whether or not good triumphed over evil, and my simple answer is no, neither good nor evil triumphed. I say that because it is difficult for one to recognize the fact that neither warrior is explicitly more “evil” than the other due to the fact that “even worst enemies are deeply, fundamentally the same—desirous of glory and immortality;” however, as Saul Levin states, “the Greeks… reinterpreted the Iliad so as to idealize Achilles and ignore Hector,” so it is only natural for one to see Achilleus as the good warrior. In light of that, Hector actually “moves most modern readers and even scholars far more than Achilles,” and, that being said, I would go as far as to say that Hector is the true hero and do-gooder of the Iliad even though he is portrayed as otherwise in the story. The fact that Hektor’s life in the story matches various Proppian functions in sequential order helps solidify this claim that Hektor can be viewed as the hero of the myth. Furthermore, it also reveals the fact that within the Iliad there is no real villain, but even so “seeing that every war is a terrible evil, [the poet] felt that some man or men must bear the blame,” and, unfortunately for Hektor, he was portrayed by the Greeks as a villain in the war.
Referring back to Professor Jamison’s statement, one should always look into and analyze the situations in the story that stand out. For example, one could look at the manner in which Hektor fulfills Propp’s fourteenth function of acquiring the use of a magical agent. What truly stands out about this instance is the fact that Hektor has in fact just taken the armor of his most worthy adversary. Furthermore, it becomes very ironic that the armor that Hektor acquires reality acts like a double-edged sword, for in the battle against Achilleus it leads his untimely death. The armor is supposed to protect, but ends up being his greatest weakness as Achilleus stabs Hektor in the only vulnerable spot of the armor, which only Achilleus would know. Ultimately, that which should have protected him essentially kills him.
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