Tales from Ovid

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The theme of Love in Myrrha and Actaeon:

The recurring theme in nearly all the metamorphoses is them of love, be it personal love, love personified in the figure of Cupid (God of love) or any other type of love. I have chosen to focus upon the love in the tales of Myrrha and Actaeon. Love appears in both these tales and holds a central role however the type of love differs. Within Myrrha the love is unconventional, whereas in Actaeon a passion for a sport is heavily emphasised rather than the loving of an actual human being.

As previously mentioned the nature of the love, which Myrrha shows towards her father, is highly unconventional for the time. This is proven through Cupids disdain for it and his denial of having any responsibility for this act: ‘Cupid absolutely disowns it’ and ‘He denies they were his’. With the knowledge that Cupid was blind we can tell how emphatic these quotations really are, compacting the seriousness of this offence that Myrrha has committed. Cupid’s denial is an attempt to clean his name and maintain his pristine reputation, an antithesis to Myrrha whose name is being dirty especially significant as she has the contextual background of royalty. Hughes employs antithesis within ‘Myrrha’s love for her father was a crime infinitely worse’. Loving one’s father is not usually described as a crime, in fact it would usually be considered normal as a quality within a daughter. However, Myrrha’s love her father in a far from filial way. This love is juxtaposed by the direct comparison of it to a crime, for which punishment can be administered and therefore of a forewarning of what is it to come.

Myrrha defends and attempts to justify her love for her father. Through comparisons with the natural world such as ‘a Billy goat will impregnate his daughter’, however we see mankind’s destruction of this tradition when Hughes writes ‘man has distorted this license’. The destruction that man brings to the natural environment is a theme...
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