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Compare and Contrast the characters of Hektor and Paris and draw close character analysis of both of them.

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Compare and Contrast the characters of Hektor and Paris and draw close character analysis of both of them. The Illiad is an ancient Greek epic poem which comprises of twenty-four books. It is believed to be composed in the 8th century BC. It describes the events of the Trojan War, a conflict between Greece and Troy that took place four centuries earlier. The initial cause of the Trojan War was the abduction of Helen, the queen of Sparta, by Paris, aTrojan prince. As the poem unfolds more and more is apparent as we are introduced to new characters, who we see develop in new situations. Distinctive characters are formed within the Illiad as Homer has made their importance and significance to the story apparent. Two such characters are Hektor and Paris, whom I am going to analyse thoroughly by referring to books three and six. Paris is the son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, and brother to Hektor. He is also referred to as Alexandros in the Illiad. In Book three we are first introduced to Paris very early on, on the battle field, just as the Achaians are approaching. He is described as "Alexandros the godlike". Throughout the Illiad Homer uses many references to refer to Paris. He refers to Paris as "the hero", as "godlike" and even as "son of Priam". Homer also uses the same technique in reference to Hektor. Hektor is also the son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba as he is brother to Paris.

Middle

We are automatically made aware of Hektor's personal side which we have not before witnessed. We are then subjected to this side of Hektor yet again as Homer describes an endearing scene in book six with Hektor, his wife and son. In this scene we all able to really see another side to Hektor's character and are really made to sympathise with his situation. Like Hektor's mother, his wife "came running to meet him". This reiterates how popular and loved he is. When Hektor sees his son he "smiled in silence", whereas his wife, Andromache, "stood close behind him, letting her tears fall." This is a very sentimental scene as Homer has painted a vivid picture of Hektor's family life. The sad element of the whole meeting is the fact that both Hektor and his wife know that this is the last time that they will ever be together. This is confirmed as Hektor earlier said to his mother "I must visit my beloved wife and my son, who is little, since I do not know of ever again I shall come this way". Also Andromache makes this terrible fate clear as she pleads with her husband to stay and instead fight the Greeks from inside the walls of Troy. The fact that Hector fights in his homeland, unlike any of the Achaean commanders, allows Homer to develop him as a tender, family-oriented man. Hector shows deep, sincere love for his wife and children and this is clearly apparent in this book.

Conclusion

In book three Helen's resentment and hatred is made clear, "So you come back from fighting. Oh how I wish you had died there beaten down by the stronger man, who was once my husband". This is a shocking thing for a wife to say to her husband in Homer's time. The way in which Helen, his one pillar of support strikes him down makes the reader sympathise with Paris to a certain extent. The fact that Helen compares Paris with her last husband in such a crude way illustrates just how week and pathetic Paris is, as he is ridiculed by the one person who is meant to 'love' him. Upon close analysis of both Hektor and Paris much has been distinguished about their characters, how they viewed each other and how they are viewed by others. We learn how contrasting their morals, priorities and characteristics are despite being brother's and being brought up in the same fashion. We are made to admire Hektor, but at the same time sympathise with him, while feeling ashamed for Paris. After all Helen was right when she said to Hektor, "It is on your heart beyond all that the hard work has fallen for the sake of dishonoured me and the blind act of Alexandros". Through Hektor Homer has taught us that a character's social status was mainly based upon his performance in the battlefield. Throughout The Iliad, the heroic characters make decisions based on a definite set of principles, which are referred to as the "code of honour. Hektor clearly chose to follow the "code of honour", whereas Paris clearly chose not to.

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