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Stealing Innocence

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Stealing Innocence There are many who read the story of "Leda and the Swan" who feel utter contempt for the god and his lust, and well that they should. The story of Leda seems to ring true in even these modern times as we watch shows like "Law and Order: SVU" or hear of innocent women being attacked in the most perverted manner. In its various versions by Yeats the story of "Leda and the Swan" gets progressively less flowery with its imagery and more clear cut in its descriptions of Leda's stolen innocence. Later another author would add her perspective to what truly happened to Leda on that fateful day. And as the story changed from one version to another it becomes easier to see the dreadful act committed by the god. The story of "Leda and the Swan" was set down thousands of years ago by Greek writers attempting to explain history through mythology. They speak of the lustful king of the gods, Zeus, falling in love with a beautiful mortal woman. But she is married and refuses to love the god or consent to his advances. There are some critics, who believe that this is the story of seduction rather than rape, but "Some versions suggest seduction rather than rape, but...The line can be a fine one but it would have been fairer for Zeus to accept the responsibility of rape as the Greeks took a severe view of the degree of complicity of a married woman allowing herself to be seduced." ...read more.


The 1924 version is the first of the poems to be given the poem's now famous title of "Leda and the Swan." This is also a version in which his wording becomes slightly less cryptic and easier to understand the scene being portrayed. Even though the poem has been called "one of the most technically masterful poems ever written in English" (Napierkowski), it can be hard to decipher to the average reader. This second version goes into more depth on the initial attack of Leda by Zeus, "a rush, a sudden wheel, and hovering still the bird descends," (Barnet, 140). Later the actual rape is described in more vivid details somewhat easier to understand than in the original version. This version of the poem also seems to show more of the fact that Leda was actually raped and not seduced as debated by some critics, "and that all-powerful bill has laid her helpless face upon his breast," (Barnet, 140). The mention of the word "helpless" implies that she was not consenting to the act and that it was in fact a rape. This revision is a great improvement on the original draft in that the imagery is easier to visualize, the lines now contain a thought process that flows easily from one line to the next, and that Yeats ends the debate on whether this was rape or consensual sex. ...read more.


This version of the story could not be any further from the original versions written by Yeats in the 20s and 30s. But it gives the story a victim's perspective which is unseen in any of Yeats' versions of "Leda and the Swan." The story of Leda and the Swan is a dark tale of a young girl having her innocence taken from her by a lustful god. Yeats' story started with confusing thoughts and imagery but was perfected over several versions to a story with an aligned thought process and clear imagery. Later a new version written by Duyn gave a female perspective to a story of a strong masculine god raping a poor girl who did no wrong. So while Yeats tells us the story with imagery and allusions Duyn gives us a humanizing perspective by telling the tale through the victim's eyes. Self-Reflection Do the main paragraphs support the argument? Does the argument make sense? Is there enough supporting evidence in the main body paragraphs, mainly outside sources, to support the argument? I had some difficulty writing this paper and trying to evaluate all the different aspects that changed with each new draft of the story. Comparing versions of the same work turned out trickier than I expected. Even the slightest changes in a poem can have a drastic effect on the tone or even meaning of the poem. I believe that I may need to go back and reread the poems again and check to make sure that I covered all changes and their possible effect on the poem. ...read more.

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