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Have you ever come across a tale or a myth wherein a female character was revealed as a protagonist, away from harm and not to be controlled by others? Not very likely. The mythological world was so much of men’s civilization that women weren’t after audiences’ attention whatsoever. Despite the fact that female characters were often involved in countless myths, many were scapegoats for men; they must suffer, sacrifice and be tossed around. Such portrayals were established within “Demeter and Persephone” by Celia Barker Lottridge, “The Face in the Pool” by Mary Pope Osborne, and inside the Greek Mythology The Beginnings “Pandora’s Box” by T. R. Gadd.
In almost all tales and myths, there was always an innocent female character who must suffer in the end. Demeter, goddess of Earth, along with her daughter Persephone, were two delighted female figures who lived on Earth in the story of “Demeter and Persephone.” Unfortunately, Hades, god of the underworld, decided to kidnap Demeter’s beloved daughter bringing joy and lightness to the world where only death existed. Ultimately, Demeter soon discovered the loss of Persephone and this angered mother sought for revenge. Consequently, Persephone became the property of and was under the domination of Hades. As an ignorant person, Persephone did not know why all of a sudden she became the bride of Hades and would forever breathe the air of underworld. On the same hand, people and the nature of Earth were covered with remembrance of Demeter’s. “Until my daughter is returned to me, the earth will show the sorrow in my heart,” (Lottridge 314) Demeter stated to Zeus. From this, it was shown that both Demeter and Persephone were innocent female figures who had done nothing wrong but had to suffer in different ways. Furthermore, the goddess of Earth along with Persephone were just bringing energy and joy to the world, while Hades was the one who caused the trouble. Yet Persephone had to stay in the dark and gloomy underworld and Demeter had to suffer with sadness. These acts of penalty proved that they were punished for the fault of others, therefore scapegoats of Hades. Proof of suffering was also developed in “The Face in the Pool” where Echo, a charming nymph, was serving for the god of sky and also ruler of the Roman pantheon, Jupiter. In addition to this, Jupiter frequently called for this little wood nymph to distract his wife Juno from finding out where he was jovially entertained with other wood nymphs. Eventually, his wife realized that Echo was in fact misleading her and this outraged Juno directed a spell upon Echo. As a result, poor Echo was not only cursed for being not able to develop sentences, but also to repeat just the last words of others. Unlike Demeter in “Demeter and Persephone”, the curse on Echo was an ongoing and never ending suffering. Words filled with fury came out from Juno’s mouth as she shouted wrathfully at the face of Echo, “Henceforth, your voice will be more brief, my dear! You will always have the last word – but never the first.” (Osborne 6) For this reason, we can identify how Echo as a female character was indeed assisting for a god but unluckily ended up suffering. Moreover, Echo was merely used as a toy for Jupiter, but he did not even have the intention of assisting Echo’s recovery or to do anything about this after his wife afflicted her to forever echoing the words of others. Echo was evidently nothing other than a scapegoat of Jupiter for what he has done. In other words, Jupiter basically treated Echo as a shield which kept him away from trouble for embracing and having fun with wood nymphs and yet, Echo was abandon when she became useless. Evidence of suffering appeared in “Pandora’s Box” as well, where Zeus ordered Hephaestus to create a no-ordinary woman to carry the responsibility of discharging evils into the world. Due to Pandora’s curiosity in her head which was thrown in by Zeus, she unsealed a packed-jar and the evils plagued over the world. Shortly after the wedding of Epimetheus and Pandora, Pandora tried to convince her husband allowing her to check out what was in this beautiful jar, a gift from the King of the gods. “Please, my husband. I would love to see it,” she kept on urging Epimetheus, “I wonder what is inside it.” (Gadd 20) Obviously, we could recognize that Pandora was a female character in this myth who was given great responsibility and was create with an empty head while also with great inquisitiveness. She may not know this herself but, she suffered. In addition, Zeus came up with this plan of revenging on humankinds just because the fire reminded him to do so. And yet it was humans and Prometheus who essentially initiated this trouble. So similar to Demeter, Persephone and Echo, Pandora had to suffer as a result of others fault. In this case, Pandora was the scapegoat of humans, Prometheus and even Zeus. Many myths were comprised of suffering to some degree and it was the female figures who started out to be innocent but ought to contribute to those suffering.
There was always a female figure who ought to sacrifice something in many different myths. In the story of “Demeter and Persephone”, Zeus, the Father of Heaven, knew that Persephone was still young and did not belong to the underworld. Meanwhile, as Hades was calling Persephone to go with Hermes, the messenger of the gods, he also declared that if Persephone had once eaten anything in the underworld, she could not leave. Realizing the fact that Persephone did in fact ate four pomegranate seeds, Zeus had no choice but to speak with both Demeter and Hades, “Because Persephone ate four seeds in the underworld, she will spend four months of the year with Hades.” (Lottridge 315) Clearly, it was shown that Persephone as one of the female characters in the story had to sacrifice part of her life by giving up four months each year and to spend time in the underworld with Hades. Moreover, Persephone was merely a joyful little goddess who enjoyed life on Earth, but was captured by Hades. Persephone was clearly nothing more than just a scapegoat of Hades for his faulty mistake. Testimony of female figures sacrificing appeared in “Face in the Pool” too, where Echo was cursed with being unable to create sentences and was only able to say the last words of others. In other words, her ability to speak was greatly reduced. Likewise, she had to sacrifice something which was part of her living basis the way Persephone had to. For instance, the words spoken out from Juno’s mouth, “Henceforth, your voice will be more brief, my dear! You will always have the last word – but never the first.” (Osborne 6) effectively illustrated that Echo from that moment would not have the freedom and easiness to communicate with others. Also, quotes such as “Let us meet” (Osborne 6), “Love me” (Osborne 6) and “Good-bye my love” (Osborne 7) demonstrated what and how Echo was sacrificing in the story. Furthermore, Echo was obviously a scapegoat of Jupiter for him playing with wood nymphs. In other words, Echo was the shield for Jupiter which ended up partially losing her voice and sacrificed her capability to talk. Unlike Persephone and Echo, Pandora did not have to sacrifice anything at all. Although she was left with the responsibility of releasing evils into the world, she in fact had nothing to sacrifice. As a gift from Zeus, she was sent to be the bride of Epimetheus. Asking questions like “Were does that big light in the sky come from? Why is it cold today? Why is that water falling from the sky?” (Gadd 20) showed how Pandora was happy about the wedding and had no problems afterwards. As mentioned before, she was the gift, indeed the weapon of Zeus. Therefore, it can be said that Pandora was a scapegoat of Zeus for his revenge on humans. All the myths required characters sacrificing something in order to demonstrate sympathy and the necessity of that person, but often they were female figures who had to forfeit something and be involved in the sacrificing. Many myths were involved sacrificing to some extent and it was mostly the female figures who sacrificed their belongings but not the men.
In most of the myths and stories, female characters were often being tossed around by others. As mentioned before, Persephone, daughter of Demeter, were not able to stay on Earth for the entire year as a result of Hades falling in love with her. “Because Persephone ate four seeds in the underworld, she will spend four months of the year with Hades.” (Lottridge 315) Clearly, Zeus stated that Persephone would have to spend four months each year to live in the underworld. Subsequently, she was starting to be tossed around by male figures in the story directly by Hades and in some way by Zeus, who came up with this unpleasant idea. After all, Hades was the individual who began such terrible fault. Thus up till now, Persephone and even Demeter were still the scapegoats of Hades for what he has done. Evidence of female characters being tossed around appeared in “Face in the Pool” as well. Despite the fact that Echo was one of the toys for Jupiter to embrace and play with, Jupiter always called for Echo to step up to his wife and act as a shield when Juno came close to finding him. Consequently, Echo had to sneak around to find where Juno was before Juno found out what Jupiter was doing. “But whenever Juno came close to finding Jupiter, a charming nymph named Echo stepped across her path.” (Osborne 6) Thus, she was sent around doing whatever Jupiter told her to and was constantly being tossed around to some extent. However, her level of being tossing around by male figure(s) was not as great as what Persephone experienced. Furthermore, after acting as a shield for Jupiter, Juno soon found out that Echo was tricking on her and cast a deadly spelling upon Echo. Yet Jupiter did not even have a thought of trying to save her after this happened. Therefore, Echo clearly appeared to be a scapegoat of Jupiter for his entertainment and was discarded after usage. In the “Pandora’s Box”, Zeus came up with a smart plan to bring evils onto human beings. Pandora, the transporter of the evil gift, was created and sent down into humanity with her husband and was responsible of freeing the evils into the world. From the words laughed out from Zeus’s mouth, “Now it is time for me to give her my gift. Let’s see what this gift will do for her. But Hermes, I have one more task for you to complete. Take Pandora to Epimetheus, the brother of that traitor, Prometheus, ad tell him she is a peace-offering from me. I want Epimetheus to know that I have no hard feelings for him because of his brother’s unpardonable acts. So Pandora can be the wife of Epimetheus. And take this jar as my dowry to Epimetheus,” we could identify that Zeus wished to toss Pandora to Epimetheus and marry him. Since Zeus realized that both Prometheus and Epimetheus were the creators of mankind and probably enjoyed spending time with humans, this would help Pandora, who was innocent and knew nothing about what was going on, to accomplish the goal set for her–to release the evils into the world of humans. Although she was only tossed once by Zeus, this scapegoat was the cause of human and Prometheus stealing fire. Female characters were often tossed around by males in many myths, but was never the vice-versa.
The mythological world did not seem to treat women as equally as it did to men. Females had to tolerate suffering, sacrificing and be tossed around by male figures. All three myths showed cases wherein female figures were scapegoats of men. This way, the male heroic characters were able to do whatever they wanted since it was the women who ought to endure penalties and be punished for the faults of others. Such portrayal was clearly shown in particularly these three myths, “Demeter and Persephone”, “The Face in the Pool” and “Pandora’s Box.” Was it because women were considered with lower-importance to men? Or were men being looked at to be too superior to women? In spite of everything, it was the mankind who personified Chaos and began creations of tales and myths. If humans were given the opportunity to modify or to recreate those tales and myths, would females ended up differently?
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