Year of Wonders

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Themes
Transformation of the Self/ Fate versus Chance and Free Will • Ransom explores the idea that personal transformation is an almost inevitable aspect of the human condition.

• The journey from Troy to the Greek camps is symbolic of Priams’ transition and steady progression from King to Father and Man into human form.

• The vision in which Priam seems himself “dressed in a plain white robe without ornament. No jewelled amulet at his breast’ is a vision of himself reduced to his essential humanity with no symbolic interdictions in the form of him noble status to come between him and the world. To enact this change is in some sense to challenge the will of the gods who had decreed Priam’s fate from the moment he was originally ransomed as a child.

• Priam experiences a divine visitation from the goddess Iris who assures him: “Not a mockery, my friends, but the way things are. Not the way they must be, but the way they have turned out. In a world that is also subject to chance.” (Pg. 46)

• This notion of chance is significant in the novel’s examination of the individual capacity for transformation. For Priam, human life has always appeared subject to the will or the whims of the gods, a fore-ordained pattern in which individuals merely constitute the motifs of this larger design. The visionary discovery or revelation that chance plays a significant part in human affairs is a moment of profound personal liberation for Priam as he is able to envision a role for himself that transgresses the boundaries he had always believed were immutable for him.

• Priam articulates a new conception of human possibility throughout this discovery: “I believe that the thing that is needed to cut this knot we are all tied in is something that has never before been done or thought of. Something impossible. Something new.”

• Priam is a metonym: his name and body have come to represent his role and his country. The city of Troy is called

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