Paradise and Death Personal Response – Mahad Cheema

Paradise and Death written by Eric Macknight, made me realize how many opportunities Odysseus had to escape from all his troubles. Yet, when Odysseus encounters these problems, he escapes death every time. The contrast between paradise and death differs with the opportunities presented in front of him. Odysseus intends to kill Polyphemus, however, he realizes that it would bring his own death as well, so in order to escape death, he must allow the cyclops to live. This again occurs with the cattle of the sun god, when Odysseus is told that if he kills the cattle of the sun god his crew will surely die. There is the repetition of death and how he has escaped it countless of times. Before reading Paradise and Death by Eric Macknight, never once did I feel like paradise came towards Odysseus, only death. “The pleasures of paradise are fleeting—“a summer joy,” “the flower of life.” Our delight in them depends upon their novelty, their contrast with our usual experiences.” (pg. 16) The analyzation on Odysseus’ speech to Alkínoos at the beginning of Book Nine can be seen as paradise. 

Furthermore, apart from the fact that Paradise and Death, talks about all these important points, the writing itself is eloquent. The simplicity of the sentences and examples used are extremely easy to follow through and it delivers the points across. Additionally, followed through with assertions to support these points, and examples it overall makes everything easier to comprehend. As well, with the proper formatting in this essay, the proper citations for quotes and the organizational structure of the writing makes everything very lucid. Most importantly, writing short concise sentences really makes a difference in writing and how much easier it well be for the reader. My biggest problem in writing is constantly elaborating on things I talk about. All of this results in confusion or complexity in my writing. When reading Paradise and Death, all the points were straightforward, with easy-to-read explanations. Writing unnecessary points, and using redundant phrases is not a persuasive style of writing. Moving forward, using the things learned I will apply it to my writing, and it will benefit me with improvements.

Antigone Personal Response – A lesson to be learned

Antigone by Sophocles was an enjoyable read for me. This story was dispersed with deep emotional losses that made me feel sorry and sad but also engaged within the story. The main reason for my sentimental sadness was because of how Antigone never had the chance to marry her fiancé Haemon, and how she must face death alone. I realized her whole family has lived for generations with a curse in their lineage and the fate of her whole family had to destroy everything for them. Sympathy goes to Antigone however, I really liked Antigone as the tragic hero of this story because she remains true both to the Gods and her brother. Although, she is faced with death, she refuses to go against either one, choosing to end her own life. Thus, she seals her testimony with her own blood and dies a tragic hero. I really respect and admire her bravery with her acts and how she faced her punishment with courage.

Antigone does not place herself in society. Rather than compromise her religious beliefs, she remains true to herself. Antigone is portrayed as a brave independent woman when nobody else supports her decision to bury Polynices. When it comes to burying Polynices herself, Antigone goes against Creon. The fact that the people of Thebes did not unite with Antigone could be seen as a factor to her downfall, even though they agreed with her. Despite this, Antigone does, and she willingly disobeyed Creon the King. This really makes me connect to the world and how it is different. Antigone believes in herself, her culture and the gods. She fought for what she believed, even if it may have costed her life. This motivates my courage in doing what I believe is right and how we all should too. Of course, not in the extreme measurement of possibly losing your life, but if we need a change and believe in it, we should act.

Antigone isn’t the only one in the play who stands alone. Creon also stands alone but in a different way. Even though the people of Thebes, except for Antigone, followed his law, they did not agree with it. The prophet Tiresias, who is never wrong, tells Creon that it is not a good idea to not bury Polynices and that it will anger the gods. Despite the wise advice from Tiresias, Creon still passes the law that states no one shall bury Polynices or mourn his death. He stands alone in this decision and is not willing to listen to the opinions of others. Not only is this a factor in Creon’s downfall but is also one in Antigone’s. Creon is portrayed as misogynistic, someone who thinks less of women. I can see why Crean is not praised like other characters in this book and that is largely based off what he says about women. Crean orders his slaves to take Antigone and Ismene inside: “[they] must be women now. / No more free running” (578-579), suggesting that freedom is absent from his definition of women.

Gender inequality with comparison to their specific expected roles in society were how men looked at women. I really would not want to live in the setting of this story based on the problems in the setting with femininity and sexism but also because of how I could get unlucky and also live in a prophecy. Despite the setting of this story, we can see many imageries when reading Antigone. An example would be when Antigone said; “She wailed out loud that sharp sound of bitterness a bird makes when she looks in her nest and it’s empty, it’s a widow’s bed in the baby chicks are gone” (515-518) Sophocles uses a metaphor and imagery to compare Antigone to a bird as well as to emphasize Antigone’s devotion to her brother.

Reading Antigone helped me think about things in a different way. Life finding the struggle of balance between being strong alone and being strong in a crowd. Both Antigone and Creon stand alone, but their intentions are different. Antigone has a strong grasp on her morals and is able to do what is right even when no one supports her. The theme of this story is Fate and Free will and to see Antigone’s bravery and courage to do what she truly believed in was right. Antigone symbolizes her free will of doing what is right even if it may cost her life. Antigone’s courageous acts raises one question. Why are we scared of death?

Oedipus the King – Personal Response

Oedipus the king written by Sophocales was an enjoyable read for me. Reading the story always had me excited for the next scene. I liked reading Oedipus the king mainly because of Oedipus the main characters personality development, and how it changed over the story. When the truth is being revealed Oedipus makes it his responsibility to keep on looking for the truth, and I really admire this respectable act of his. I also disliked Jocasta as she was the one to give off her son to die. Another thing which I found a bit difficult to understand was the old-fashioned language.

At the beginning of the story, I did not like Oedipus because of his bad temper and how hubris he was. When Oedipus comes across Laius at the narrow bridge his self-confidence from his egotistical ambitions kicks in, he kills Laius and his people over Laius telling him to get out the way. At this point of the story, I strongly disliked Oedipus as he killed for no reason and how he did not think before committing this act. This act made him unlikeable for me as I saw him to be a very cocky king that thought of himself so highly. When the King of Thebes Oedipus, comes to Corinth, he is praised to be king and marry the Queen Jocasta who is Oedipus’s mother. Later in the story, the truth slowly starts to come to light from the Soothsayer and Oedipus completely denies the accusation of him killing his father. Although, this was also something I disliked about Oedipus as he did not even think about the possibilities, we later discover that Oedipus is determined to find out the truth especially when everything is pointed at him. This changes the way I look at Oedipus, I respect him and admire him so much after his bravery and loyalty to being The King of Thebes of finding out the truth, when he easily could have ignored it. I sympathize for how Oedipus was the puppet of the Gods and how the prophecy ruled his life. However, I commend how Oedipus stabbed his eyes out for control over his own life and to end being the puppet to the Gods. I also disliked Jocasta as she tried hiding the truth.

During the story I did not think much of Jocasta as she did not have any qualities I disliked. However, when the truth is slowly coming to light instead of being loyal to her position of the Queen, she tries brushing off the accusations as she does not want to truth to be revealed. Her motive on trying to avoid grief when the identity of Oedipus is coming to light is something I do not admire. Jocasta was a character I did not like because she tried to alter the fate but then she also denies it at various points. Jocasta is selfish to me because she tried to change her fate multiple times to protect her reputation. Jocasta’s motive was to make herself prosper and successful as a noble queen. All things considered, she did not want anything interfering with her reputation and she attempts to repute Tiresias’s allegation. She tried stopping Oedipus from seeking the truth when she realized the prophecy came true. I also found the Ancient Greek old-fashioned language a bit difficult, especially when reading the chorus.

The old-fashioned language was something that was a bit difficult to follow. Certain times of reading the play I was lost and had no clue on what was being said.  There are also a few instances of rhyme, appearing only in the beginning and final scenes, and usually only by Oedipus and the chorus.


Hello, my name is Mahad and I am Canadian but my parents are from Pakistan. I enjoy playing sports like basket-ball and cricket, I also enjoy listening to music and talking to my friends. I am expecting to learn the same things as last year but at a greater extent. Things like efficient writing and poem analyzations are familiar to me but I am hoping to improve even more this year.