Ransom: What Defines a Man Essays

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‘Ransom’ demonstrates that it is a man’s actions that define him. Discuss.

While Priam’s decision to defy kingly conventions and act as ‘an ordinary man’ shows that a man’s actions can indeed make up a significant element of one’s identity, Malouf also makes it clear that a man’s emotional connections with others define him. Priam’s humble request of Achilles, and Achille’s agreement to this, humanize the two men and highlight their compassionate sides as opposed to their societal statuses. However, the love both men have for their sons is, and always has been, entrenched in their identities, and prompts these life-changing actions.

In dismissing his royal obligations and appealing to Achilles as a man and a father, Priam defied his
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After savagely dragging Hector behind his chariot fails to bring him closure and satisfaction after the death of his ‘soul mate,’ Achilles realizes that an act of redemption is needed to free himself from the ‘clogging grey web that enfolds him’ and define himself as a man rather than a ‘ravening beast.’ However, it is also due to a shared understanding between the two men of ‘a father’s soft affections’ that Achilles is touched by Priam’s speech and makes the decision to return the body of Priam’s son.

Although it was through taking these unlikely actions that Priam and Achilles were able to escape convention and create new identities for themselves, it was because of their love and human compassion as fathers that they were inspired to carry out the exchange. As Priam discovers during his journey with Somax and his meeting with Achilles, all humans are joined by their love and emotional connections, and it is this that determines the decisions a person makes in life. It is not only Priam’s desire to escape his kingly obligations, but his love for his son and Hecuba, whose motherly bond with Hector amplifies her grief, that cause him to swallow his ‘kingly pride and dignity’ in order to retrieve Hector’s body. It is then Priam’s appeal to Achille’s paternal side, asking him to consider if it had been Achilles’ son’s body ‘for whom you have a father’s soft affections, to whom
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