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Shows how de Bernires uses myth in "Captain Corelli's Mandolin".

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Sunday, 13 October 2002 Jad Salfiti A2 English Literature Shows how de Berni�res uses myth in "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" takes place on a small Greek island called Cephallonia, that is still, in the years before World War II, touched with all the magic of a Greek legend, and immersed with a light that is "as though straight from the imagination of God in His youngest days, when He still believed that all was good". Dr. Iannis lives with his daughter, Pelagia. Dr. Iannis' wife and Pelagia's mother died at an early age, leaving Pelagia with a somewhat unconventional upbringing. Iannis is a self taught man who has never lost his desire for learning. Dr. Iannis is described as "odd on account of his compulsion to heal" this is similar to the Greek hero, Aristaeus, who learned in the arts of medicine and soothsaying, Aristaeus wandered through many lands teaching his skills and curing the sick. In turn, Pelagia picks up things from her father, and has a knack for education; she is probably the most educated woman on Cephallonia. Pelagia falls in love with Mandras, a local fisherman. She secretly gazes at Mandras swimming naked in the sea with some dolphins; dolphins appear frequently in Classical mythology, they are depicted on frescoes on the bathroom wall in the Palace of Knossos in Crete, however their importance is ambiguous. ...read more.


Dr. Iannis, for one thing, refuses to adorn Pelagia with a dowry, because he views this social convention as outdated. Mandras is offended and rendered cognisant that his illiteracy and poor education prevent him from conversing with Pelagia on the level that he would like. Mandras decides that the best thing to do would be to ask for Pelagia's hand in marriage, and then make a man of himself by fighting against the Italians. With the Italians nearly defeated, Mussolini decides to call on the help of Hitler. Captain Corelli is billeted at Dr. Iannis' house. Whilst Pelagia struggles to complete her bed sheet for Mandras, Corelli keeps catching her eye. Captain Corelli is an expert musician: soon the Cephallonian nights are filled with the sweet and harmonious songs of the mandolin. Captain Corelli is similar to the mythological character of Orpheus. Orpheus was a celebrated Thracian musician. Supposedly, the music of his lyre was so beautiful that when he played, wild beasts were soothed, trees danced, and rivers stood still. Orpheus married the nymph Eurydice. When Aristaeus tried to violate her, she fled, was bitten by a snake, and died. Orpheus descended to Hades searching for her. He was granted the chance to redeem Eurydice if he could abstain from looking at her until he had led her back to sunlight. ...read more.


In Homer's Iliad he is represented as an ideal warrior and the mainstay of Troy. His character is drawn in most favourable colours as a good son, a loving husband and father, and a trusty friend; this is ironic considering the tyrannical and cruel role the Hector plays in the novel, this choice of name misfits him and is a misnomer. Throughout the novel we find, among the Cephallonians, modern manifestations of Apollo, Aphrodite and other mythological figures and creatures. De Berni�res is trying to convey a message about time and change through these parallels. It is interesting how Homer's stories are still looked back thousands of years following their publication, his stories are didactic, edifying and in their simplicity still educate. Perhaps de Berni�res used Homer as an influence because Homer provides a common set of values that enshrined the Greeks' own ideas about themselves. His poems provided a fixed model of heroism, nobility and the good life to which all Greeks, subscribed. In his works, disgrace due to dishonour is the worst that can happen to a hero, and a short life of glorious deeds is considered far superior to a long life of peace and mediocrity, since by great deeds a man might become immortal. These morals that Homer put forward are applicable especially to the characters in the novel such as Carlo and Corelli. His portrayal of the gods is also interesting since in many ways they are used for comic relief, possessing far less dignity than their heroic mortal counterparts. ...read more.

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