Kafka’s “Silence of the Sirens”

Literally, this story is a piece of Greek mythology. It’s a short one, which talking about the Banshee in the sea called Sirens. No one can survive from their voice, even from a great distance. Ulysses, the hero from greek mythology used an inadequate, even childish way to keep himself away from Sirens. He was confident with his method. He then sailed out. However, this time, Sirens used a more fatal weapon instead of their songs. It’s Sirens’ silence. They thought Ulysses will definitely be attracted by the silence. Since Ulysses stopped his ears with wax, he believed Sirens were still singing and he did not attract by them at all. But the truth is, Sirens did not make out any sound. Sirens were shocked by his remaining calm and his radiant eyes. Finally, Ulysses escaped from the Sirens and thought his method works well. From the Sirens’ view, they thought Ulysses wanted to kill them, but he did not. In the last paragraph, Kafka states that no one knows whether Ulysses had already noticed everything or he just escape because of his luck.

After reading this short story twice, I found out a sense of dramatic irony in it. Kafka was questioning whether hero stand out because of their luck or real intelligence. From the first Paragraph, the word inadequate and childish tells how ridiculous Ulysses, our big hero, is. In the second paragraph, when introducing his childish method, Kafka said “He trusted absolutely to his handful of wax”. It tells Ulysses valued himself too highly. Kafka writes about how Sirens were trying to pierce the hero and how Ulysses survive from it in next couple paragraphs. However, if we read it carefully, we will easily find out that the only thing Ulysses did was believe in himself and he even did not notice the reality. In spectator’s’ eyes, which is Sirens in this story,they saw only the result and the greatness of the hero. They would love to believe the hero was brave and intelligent. Nevertheless, it may just be a fluke sometimes. In the last paragraph, Kafka gives us a reversal. Probably the hero had already realized everything, but we can never know. That’s correct. We can’t deny some of the hero do have outstanding talent and abilities. We usually can’t distinguish the real hero and the luck one.


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