The Habits Of Evil


The Habits Of Evil Essay, Research Paper

The Habits of EvilOdysseus encounters numerous monsters while on his epic journey, many with a single goal in mind,food. While these monsters devote themselves full-time to the obtaining of food through nefarious deeds, somespend their time in other ways, and for other purposes. Some monsters specialize in the capture of manhood,akin to stealing of the soul. Monsters usually use a specific technique to obtain their goals, includingbeauty, guile, or simply brute force. The lure used by each monster is often unique, and is always used withgreat skill. Beauty is often a monster s most powerful trait, able to take the manhood from a man without his ownknowledge. It appears in many forms, namely physical beauty, but also beauty of a different sort. Kalypso usesher beauty to hold Odysseus upon her island. This causes him to lose his manhood for his father and homelandare unreachable and far away, and also prevents him from being a speaker of words or a doer of deeds due tohis own captivity. Beauty is also shown by the Seirenes, but the beauty shown is not physical. The Seirenes sing out with suchenchantingly beautiful voices that they instantly possess any man with the desire to row to their foul island.The Seirenes sing a promise of harmony and rest, and like that of a monster in two strong ways. First, theinstant the voice of the Seirenes is heard, a man loses all desire for father and homeland, all desire to be aspeaker of words and a doer of deeds, but only to be in the presence of their beautiful voice. Secondly, theSeirenes, when their prey has finally, blindly reached their island, eat the beguiled man leaving his bonesstrewn about the island. Kirke also uses beauty quite skillfully, although it is perhaps not her greatest trait. At the beginning ofher association with Odysseus s crew, she uses her beauty in a nefarious manner. Odysseus s crew is deceivedoutside of her home by the sweet lull of her voice from inside. Polites, most faithful of Odysseus s officers,states “no need for stealth, here s a young weaver singing a pretty song to set the the air a-tingle on theselawns and paven courts. Goddess she is, or lady,” (324, 240-3) showing that the beauty of her voice luredthem out from their hiding place and into her trap. After causing them to lose their desire for father and

homeland with a cup of poisoned wine, “she flew after them with her long stick and shut them in a pigsty.”(324, 253-4) Finally, after truce was made and Odysseus s men were restored, she beguiles Odysseus, offeringfor he and his men to stay, to drink, and for Odysseus to share with her a bed. This took away Odysseus s andhis crew s manhood and shows the true strength and guile of a woman s beauty, for, so spoken by Odysseus, “Aswe were men we could not help consenting.” The ability with which Kirke combines her beauty and trickery isperhaps the ultimate representation of guile and deception. Kharybdis the nymph also uses guile, although it is in a far less subtle way. She hides beneath a massof fig tree leaves, and “Three times from dawn to dusk she spews it up and sucks it down again three times, awhirling maelstrom” (350, 112-5). Any boat caught in such a maelstrom would be instantly destroyed and thecrew eaten by the nymph. In this way she not only steals the manhood from a man, but also his life. The terrible Kyklops Polyphemos is a prime example of the use of brute force as a technique of a monster.Polyphemos uses his great strength to deprive man of two things, Father and Homeland, and Life and Limb. Hetraps Odysseus and twelve of his crew within his dark cave, rolling a boulder that “Two dozen four-wheeledwagons, with heaving wagon teams, could not have stirred” (312, 253-4) into the mouth of the cave. Thisremoves the manhood from a man for his family and homeland are all but unreachable, beyond a titanic stone.The beast then interrogates Odysseus as to his name and homeland, bashes a pair of Odysseus s crew, andmunches them for dinner. Brute force is also used by Skylla, another nymph-like monster. Skylla is a gigantic monster, a mix ofhydra and octopus. Her ways are even simpler than those of the Kyklops. With every passing ship she dives downfrom her hanging cliff side and snatches 6 men away, “one man for every gullet.” (350, 107) Those men willcertainly never see their father or homeland again. Monsters often use beauty, guile, or strength in place of or in addition to evil, claws, and teeth.The three former methods are some of the best ways to deprive a man of his life, if not only his manhood.

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