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Family Relationships in Ovid and Kafka - Book Report/Review Example

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Family Relationships in Ovid and Kafka

Hebrew law contains very specific provisions prohibiting sexual relations between just about any possible permutation of blood relatives, and one possible explanation for the detail of these regulations could be the frequent occurrence of incestuous sex.
The ancient Greek culture was also known for complex relationships among family members. The Oedipus complex, made so famous by the work of Freud, originated in the story of an infant prince sent far away from his home, because it was prophesied that he would grow up to kill his father and marry his mother. Despite the attempt to move the child, he did, through pure accident, fulfill the prophecy. Freud took Oedipus' name and used it to describe a latent desire in each son to take his father's place. While this is the most well-known example of dysfunctional relationships in a family along sexual lines in Greek lore, it is certainly not the only one. Ovid's Metamorphoses is one of the earliest sources of the myth of Myrrha. According to the story, Myrrha was the daughter of Cinyras, king of Cyprus. Beautiful and the daughter of a king, Myrrha could have had her pick of suitors, but she was consumed with lust for her father. According to some versions of the myth, Myrrha was enchanted by Aphrodite, who also was involved with such tumultuous relationships as the one between Paris and Helen of Troy.
Because she knows how unacceptable this lust is, Myrrha decides to commit suicide. However, her elderly nurse does not want to see her mistress end her life, and so she comes up with a plan. During the feast of Demeter, Myrrha's mother has to stay out of her marriage bed for nine days. The nurse tells Myrrha to take her mother's place for those nine days, so that she can enjoy her forbidden pleasure without letting either her mother or father know. Somehow, the two manage to disguise Myrrha's identity, and King Cinyras is either fooled or pretends to be fooled, and he enjoys his new lover so much that he has sex with her on many occasions. Eventually, however, his curiosity gets the better of him, and he holds his lamp up to her so that he can see who this ardent new woman is. Once he sees that he is having sex with his daughter, however, his anger and disgust are immediate. He tries to kill Myrrha on the spot, but she manages to escape. Once Myrrha realizes that she is in a hopeless situation, she asks the gods for release, and so they change her into a myrrh tree. However, beneath the bark, a child is growing, who will come forth from this tree as Adonis, the most beautiful mortal male of all time, according to Greek myth.
While this is a shocking story on a literal level, its implications on figurative levels are not so astonishing. A father's love is often what will make or break a woman's emotional framework, and so many young and adolescent girls will go to extremes to get their father's attention, with an eye towards gaining his approval. These extremes take many different forms of rebellion, and, admittedly, ...Show more

Summary

There may be no more complicated relationships than the ones we have with our biological relatives, particularly our immediate family. We spend our first two decades developing from complete dependency to autonomy alongside and in front of one another, and it is in the ways that we either form or fail to form harmonious autonomy in these relationships that we determine, in large part, how adulthood will either be a time of success, or a time of struggle…
Author : olsonmelvin
Family Relationships in Ovid and Kafka essay example
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