Ransom Death Essay

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Silhouetted against the backdrop of a war-torn Troy, David Malouf’s Ransom explores the inner conflict and grief caused by the loss of loved ones. The rage of Achilles, so central to the dramatic structure of the Illiad, is portrayed by Malouf as an expression of the most deeply instinctive, primal emotions, unmediated by cultural or social code, an innate human response in its most raw “animal” state. The depths of Achilles’ rage, his refusal to be consoled after the death of Patroculus is mirrored in the pain felt by Priam - the sense of loss that he experiences is no less intense. Throughout his novel, Malouf explores the idea that men from starkly different backgrounds can be united through common experience and their underlying humanity the most explicit of these experiences, which all men feel is pain and anguish resulting from the death of a loved one. Malouf suggests that the death of a loved one is a harrowing affair, plunging men into a ‘clogging grey web’, which can only be liberated through the expression of self and the connection to one’s true humanity. The power of death as a common experience for mortals is further compounded as Malouf advocates that men, even from different socio-economic backgrounds can forge a connection based on their similar emotions, as depicted through Priam’s connection with the ‘ordinary’ carter, Somax. Death, as the final experience of all mortals, is shown to be able to catalyse deeply human connections between men, through which Malouf draws an allusion to the cyclical nature of life and death. Malouf begins his novel by demonstrating the overarching significance of death, and the emotional turmoil it causes, especially to those close to it. Achilles is first displayed not as a mighty warrior, as one would expect from The Illiad, but as a ‘man’, looking out to the shore, with his mind as ‘the most active part of him’. Malouf immediately signals his own interpretation of the text, as he details emotional transformations...
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