A Mother

Paper Rating: Word Count: 1553 Approx Pages: 6

W.H. Auden's poem The Shield of Achilles is inspired by Thetis' actions in The Iliad. When Patroclus wears Achilles' armor and is killed, Thetis, Achilles' doting mother, goes to Hephaestos and requests a new shield for her son. She desires and expects a shield depicting the glorious results of war, a shield worthy of adorning her great warrior son. In her idealism, perhaps naiveté, she feels that Achilles, carrying his new shield, will be invincible in battle. Thetis' maternal notions serve to blind her from the tragedy fated for her son, and in her blindness can only imagine the traditional notion of a romanticized war; to imagine anything else would be to accept fate. Hephaestos, on the other hand, is fully aware of the true nature of war. As such, he creates the shield to depict the tragic reality of battle, to disillusion Thetis regarding her son's impending demise. The author's perspective is congruous with Hephaestos', and his attitudes expressing the senselessness of war are prevalent throughout the poem. The poem's tensions lie in Thetis' desires to see her son in a pure and victorious setting when contrasted with the brutalities on the shield; the... Continue Reading