Analysis of Leda and the Swan Essay

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Analysis of Leda and the Swan. Greek mythology.

Analysis of Leda and the Swan.

Greek mythology has, throughout history, been the subject of much debate and interpretation. Conjuring up images of bloody battles and crumbling cities, its descriptions of the epic battle between good and evil still have remarkable relevance and continue to resonate with poignancy in our bleak, war-torn society. The poem Leda and the Swan, written by William Butler Yeats, attempts to shed new light on what is arguably one of Ancient Greece's most controversial myths. In this essay I aim to study the poem in more depth, analysing what Yeats says and how he says it.

Leda and the Swan is an interpretation of the Greek myth wherein Zeus, in the
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One could go further and argue that the intentional eroticism of something so violent is somewhat sinister - after all, a caress is supposed to be an act of affection and love, and is not normally associated with something spiteful and violent.

A sense of the victim's entrapment and entanglement is created in the next line, in which Yeats describes the swan's wings as "dark webs"
(the word "dark" is also used to portray the swan and its actions as sinister). This sense of entrapment is emphasised where the swan is said to have the nape of the victim's neck "trapped in its bill". The contrast in texture between the words "nape" and "caught" emphasise the power of the action. Yet, despite the brutality of Zeus' initial action, the softness of the word "bill" implies that it is forceful, yet not overpowering.

The eroticism which occurred in the second line continues in the line
"He holds her helpless breast upon his breast". The softness of the words used, combined with the sexual connotations which they carry, lends the line an erotic tone, made sinister by the forceful nature of the animal's actions.

The second stanza of the poem consists of two questions, both pondering on the nature of the victim's actions,
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