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Demonstration Of Ideas Of Travelling, Migration, And Exile In Literary Stories Of The Past

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Many literary stories throughout time have demonstrated the ideas of travelling, migration, and exile. Some stories that show this are The Odyssey, 1001 Arabian Nights, and the Elegy stories. Exile can be either self-inflicted or brought about from other people, where they are banished from their land.

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In The Odyssey, Odysseus is travelling back to Ithaca for 20 years without success because of Poseidon’s hatred towards him. Poseidon hates him because Odysseus blinded Polyphemus, Poseidon’s son. Ever since then, Poseidon has exiled Odysseus from home until Athena started to help him on his journey back. In the Elegy stories such as The Seafarer, the main character struggles to know his place in the world, this is a type of self-exile. He is constantly wanting to be in the sea if he is on land and vice versa and is lamenting for the loss of fellow kinsmen.

In the Wanderer, the main character is also in exile because he lost everyone that he knows and loves. The reader is never told why he lost everyone, but he feels guilty and suffers greatly for it. In 1001 Arabian Nights, Sinbad the Sailor is in self-exile because he chooses to suffer every time that he decides to take a voyage. In these stories, travelling and constant migration demonstrate metaphorical exile through the hardships that each character has getting back home. The Odyssey shows many demonstrations of metaphorical exile found through Odysseus’ journey to get back home. He is in a type of metaphorical exile because Poseidon will not let him get home because of what Odysseus did to Polyphemus’ eye, which is Poseidon’s son. The Odyssey states that “they took the olive spear, its tip all sharp, and shoved it in his eye”. This shows how Odysseus blinded Polyphemus by stabbing his eye with a spear in order to escape and causes Poseidon’s hatred towards him. Poseidon says how he will not allow Odysseus to get home when it says that “Poseidon prevents Odysseus from reaching home but does not kill him”. This shows Poseidon’s hatred toward Odysseus and how Poseidon exiled Odysseus from Ithaca because of Odysseus’ blinding of Polyphemus. He is seen going through exile like when he is trapped by both Circe and Calypso on their respective islands to keep Odysseus forever and when the Cicones in Ismarus killed some of his men. This shows exile because Poseidon is doing everything in his power in order to prevent his return by causing misfortunes. These are only some of the misfortunes that he goes through in order to get home after twenty long years of waiting. Even when he gets home, he cannot reveal himself to his family because he has to kill his wife’s suitors and see who is loyal in his family so the same situation of Agamemnon’s wife killing Agamemnon does not occur in his household. Odysseus has to face many trials of starvation, traveling and grief from lost friends in order to get back to Ithaca and break the metaphorical exile put on him by Poseidon.

The Elegies, like The Seafarer and The Wanderer, show how elegies are lamenting poems. Both of the Elegies mentioned, show signs of metaphorical exile through the way the poem talks. The Wanderer is seen as a monologue about a man who tells of his sorrows and of his exile because he has lost his fellow kinsmen. The first part of the poem is in first person, but then switches to third person. This shows the main character’s way to push the sorrow away from him because he is making it sound like it did not happen to him, but to someone else. In The Wanderer, the reader can see that the main character is in a metaphorical exile because it says, “the path of exile claims him”. This shows how the main character even sees his sorrows and death of his kinsmen as an exile because his sorrow is so deep that the only way he can escape it is through sleep. He can never return to his home because his home is with his mentor and his fellow kinsmen. Since they all died, he has no home that will make his sorrows go away, but he accepts the loss, which leads to future forgiveness and helps end his exile.

In The Seafarer, the reader can see the switch between first person and third person again to show that the main character is trying to push his sorrows away from making it seem like it did not happen to him. The main character is seen in exile when it says, “the path of exile, deprived of dear kinsmen”. This shows how the main character feels like he is in a metaphorical exile because of the loss of fellow kinsmen. He also feels like he is in a metaphorical exile because he does not know where he belongs. This is shown when it says, “my spirit moves with the sea-flood” because it shows that he is on a spiritual journey going all over different lands. However, his exile is over when he contemplates where his home is and says, “let us strive to reach that place of eternal blessedness”. This shows how he sees his home with God when he dies and since he knows where his home is, it helps to end his exile.

The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights shows constant travelling through Sinbad the Sailor’s voyages and shows metaphorical self-exile through his constant suffering and hardships on his journey home. Each time that he returns from his past voyage, he would forget about his hardships that he went through to get back and then he would go on another voyage because he would feel an urge to start travelling again. This shows how he exiles himself because he would repeatedly go back to travelling to other places even though he knew that it is dangerous. It is seen as a form of self-exile because he would put himself in the way of danger and suffering each time he took another voyage. In The Arabian Nights, it states, “The Soul instructs us to do evil”. This quote from the reading shows the audience that the main character, Sinbad the Sailor, is in self-exile during the voyages but returns home to regain his strength for the next voyage. Sinbad the Sailor knows that he has had many sufferings and hardships throughout his voyages, but still wants to do them. He wants to continue doing his voyages because he knows that he is self-exiling himself during the voyage.

The ‘evil’ the quote talks about is Sinbad’s repeated efforts of self-exiling himself. He already knows how much he is going to suffer on the voyage because of his past experiences, but it does not stop him from going on another voyage. Each time he starts another voyage, he becomes “weakened by my sufferings and emaciated by the discomforts of the voyage, which had left [me] skinny. ” This shows the level of discomfort that he puts himself in when he is on his voyages, because each time that he goes on another voyage he becomes very skinny from the lack of food intake. Sinbad the Sailor knows that when he goes on voyages he will become starved, but he still does the voyages anyway in order to sell his products, but also in a form of self-exile because of the stress that he puts on himself and his body.

Many stories like The Odyssey, The Elegies, and The Arabian Nights shows constant travelling to other parts of the world. Sometimes, like in these stories, travelling can be seen as a form of metaphorical exile. The metaphorical exile can be seen in The Odyssey when Poseidon does not allow Odysseus to return home after the Trojan War because he hurts his son, Polyphemus. In The Elegies, metaphorical exile is seen through the main characters. They travel the world because they do not have a home anymore since their fellow kinsmen died. In The Arabian Nights, the metaphorical exile is seen through Sinbad the Sailor’s constant need to travel even though he knows that he will suffer greatly each time he goes on a journey.

15 April 2020

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