Jeannette Winterson Weight

Topics: Heracles, Hesperides, Atlas Pages: 3 (1036 words) Published: March 27, 2013
In Jeanette Winterson’s novel Weight, the author demonstrates how myths have modern personal relevancies and can encourage each reader to investigate the three main subject matters in their lives; boundaries, freedom, and guilt. The numerous references to walls throughout the novel signify the boundaries, which make Atlas strive for freedom. Winterson’s Weight, is a modern rewrite on an old myth of Atlas and Heracles, and the challenges they endure can be interpreted by individual readers for personal relevancies. Atlas, a father of daughters, is faced with the burden of carrying the world on his shoulders. This can represent a feeling as if one is carrying a world of stress and guilt on one’s shoulders and conscience. Heracles, the stronger of the two, takes the weight of the world from Atlas momentarily and struggles to carry the burden when he sends Atlas to pick three golden apples from the Garden of Hesperides.

For example, boundaries are represented by walls throughout Winterson’s novel, not just the physical structures but also any other representation of a boundary. Winterson conceives the body itself as a boundary, in the sense that the skin stands between a human and everything else and although Atlas feels trapped in his own body, he escapes into his own mind to ponder the philosophies of boundaries and the universe. Winterson writes, “At last I began to hear something, I found that where the world was close to my ears, I could hear everything. I could hear conversation, parrots squawking, donkeys braying. I heard the rushing of underground rivers and the crackles of fires lighted. Each sound became a meaning and soon I began to de-code the world. … As the dinosaurs crawl through my hair and volcanic eruptions pock my face, I find I am become a part of what I must bear. There is no longer Atlas and the world; there is only the World Atlas. Travel me and I am continents. I am the journey you must make.” (p. 24). This can represent feeling stuck...
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