Seamus Haney’s translation and the Fitz and Fitzgerald translation of the first Ode of Antigone differ in their portrayals of the strength and resilience of man. While both translations paint humanity as having ingenuity and power, Haney’s translation describes man as being able to overcome anything through hard work in conjunction with the world around him while the Fitz and Fitzgerald translation portrays man as all-powerful and in complete control of his surroundings, describing his achievement and greatness as if he were divine.
This is first demonstrated in the difference between the way the two translations describe man’s relationship with different elements of nature, including the ocean and animal life. Fitz and Fitzgerald’s translation boldly explains that the ocean “yields to [man’s] prows”, implying that man has complete control over the ocean and it is submissive to him. It also describes man’s relationship with animals, saying that “all are taken” and “resign to him… tamed in the net of his mind”. Both of these details give the impression that man is ultimately in control of nature.
However, Haney’s translation portrays man and nature as having a very different relationship. Haney writes that man “took up oars, put tackle on a mast, and steered himself by the stars through the gales”. In this context, the ocean is both a tool man uses for travel and a treacherous journey he must survive, not something he dominates. This difference is significant because the Fitz and Fitzgerald translation portrays man as having dominion over natural forces, while the Haney translation emphasizes the fact that man has to work alongside nature and brave it in order to succeed.
On a similar note, the translations differ in their mention- or lack thereof- of the gods. Haney’s translation includes the gods, and writes that “the gods were born and [man] bowed down to worship them”. This reinforces Haney’s portrayal of man as working alongside the other forces of the world by explaining that he must answer to a higher power. This contrasts with Fitz and Fitzgerald’s translation which completely omits any mention of a higher power. This difference is extremely important because placing emphasis on man’s relationship with the gods puts him in a hierarchy where there is something more powerful at the top.
This does not fit in with Fitz and Fitzgerald’s portrait of man as all-powerful and in control. The descriptions of the importance of law to both the individual and society are also interpreted differently between the two translations. Both emphasize the importance of laws to society. However, Haney’s translation treats abiding the law as something which is done out of obligation to one’s own moral character and is important to being a good individual. When someone breaks the law or redefines it for themselves, Haney’s translation says that society will have to abandon that person.
Fitz and Fitzgerald’s translation is in similar vein, but emphasizes different things. It plays up the importance of following laws because it is best for the city rather than the individual, saying that laws are what hold the city together and keep it strong. Fitz and Fitzgerald include the theme of society abandoning those who disregard laws, but also includes the line “never be it said that my thoughts are his [an anarchic man’s] thoughts”. This line inserts the idea that those who disobey laws are inherently different than other law abiding members of society, which is not present in Haney’s translation.
Both translations feature a similar line which says that the only thing man is not able to withstand is death. However, there are slight differences in the way it is phrased. In the Haney translation, the line reads that “he survives every danger except death”, meaning that though man is able to rise to the occasion every other time, death is the only obstacle which he cannot overcome. The Fitz and Fitzgerald translation instead reads “from all but one: in the late wind of death he cannot stand”.
This phrasing gives a slightly different meaning, implying that death is the only thing that can defeat man. While this change between the translations is small, it is representative of one of the main differences between the two versions of the text. In Haney’s translation, man’s greatness is defined by his ability to solve problems and find new ways to succeed. In Fitz and Fitzgerald’s translation, man’s greatness is defined by how the rest of the natural world submits to him due to his innate power and superior intellect.
Question 2A: Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway relays the conversation between a man and woman sitting in a train station in Spain as they discuss the possibility of her getting an abortion In order to achieve this, Hemingway utilizes a detached narrator, realistically flawed characters, and detailed dialogue which conveys the characters’ states of mind as they fail to come to a decision or have a productive conversation. The narration is externally focalized, as the narrator does not give any details of the characters’ thoughts outside of what is relayed through their dialogue.
The narrator does not comment on the characters’ mental states or present their thoughts; the only events they pass on during the story are what you would hear or see if you were observing the couple’s conversation in the train station; rather, their sole purpose is to passively relay the events of the story. Because they are not personally involved or experiencing them, they can tell the story with an unbiased perspective. Depending on the way the story is read, there is reasonable evidence to conclude that either the man or the woman is the protagonist.
In each of these different readings, both characters have their own individual harmatia, or fatal flaw. If the woman is the protagonist, her harmatia is her lack of self-respect. She tells the man that she does not care about herself- she only cares about him. Convincing him to stay with her and to be happy again like they used to be is her main motivation for getting the abortion. Throughout their dialogue she is hesitant to share her feelings or tell the man what she is really thinking. Instead, she tries talking about the scenery as a distraction, possibly from her own thoughts.
This is a dangerous flaw because making her decisions solely based on someone else’s happiness and not discussing what she truly feels is certain to leave her unsatisfied or resentful; the cost at stake is her own happiness. If the man is considered the protagonist, his harmatia is his lack of empathy towards the woman. During their conversation, it is obvious that he is much more concerned with convincing her to get the abortion, rather than discussing what she is feeling or what she thinks.
The woman’s hesitance to speak her mind could also be a sign that he has had trouble empathizing with her earlier in the relationship as well. He continually downplays the significance of the woman getting an abortion, passing it off as just a simple operation and not even considering the emotional impact of it or the woman’s personal feelings about the procedure. He also continues to push the conversation when it is clear she does not want to discuss it anymore.
While it is clear that he does not mean to cause harm, this could cost him the relationship if he pushes the woman into making a decision that she herself is not sure of. The peripeteia of the story, also known as the change in circumstances, comes when the woman finally convinces the man to stop talking about it. The trajectory of the plot changes at this point because the conversation is no longer happening, and it has ended without the problems at hand being solved or even with either of the characters coming to a compromise. This is significant.
The title of the story hints at the main conflict being the “elephant” in the room- this is also apparent when the woman tries to start a conversation by comparing the surrounding hills to the backs of white elephants just so she can avoid starting a conversation about her feelings. Neither of the characters seem to really want to discuss the prospect of an abortion, but because it is such a pressing issue, they cannot talk about anything else until they come to a concrete agreement. When they fail to have a meaningful discussion about what their plans are, the elephant in the room continues to thrive.
The dialogue seems to convey that this conversation has been started and stopped so many time before that both of them start of by pleading- the man pleads to discuss it, and the woman pleads for the discussion to end. The peripeteia is so important in this story because it demonstrates that this cycle is simply being continued. Though they do not actually reach any sort of agreement, the fact that this happens is narratively important because it displays the nature of the characters and gives a small glimpse into the complicated problems which they are facing.