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Hu300 Unit 2 Kaplan

In: English and Literature

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The story of Jason and the Golden Fleece, otherwise known as Jason and the Argonauts, is known as one of the oldest myths concerning a hero and his quest. The basis of the story is that Jason’s father is killed by his uncle Pelias, and in order to reclaim the throne that is rightfully his, Jason is asked to seek out an item that Pelias believes will never be found. In the end, Jason is able to recover the Fleece, but at the cost of a promise he made to a sorceress. The sorceress, Medea, helped Jason to defeat a trial that her father set up for him in order to gain the Golden Fleece into his possession. This in turn leads Jason and Medea, to be driven out of their home after he finally does return to his land and gains his throne from his errant uncle. He and Medea are thus exiled to an island far from his home and are allowed the option to someday return home to their kingdom. Once again, to gain power, he agrees to marry another, breaking his promise to his first wife who goes insane and kills all of Jason’s children and his new wife. Depressed, Jason returns to his family’s home where he is subsequently killed by a rotted beam from his ship, the Argo. (Wood, 2005) There are many lessons to be learned from this ancient myth. One can learn the price of broken promises, betrayal, greed, and pride throughout the story. Pride led Jason to seek out the Golden Fleece, an object told itself in tales and was believed to be nothing more than a story. That same pride, while initially successful, came at prices that were more costly than they were worth. Jason exhibited greed, which stemmed from his pride, in that for him to gain power to win his prize, he made binding promises he was unable to keep. Two instances of betrayal occurred within the story, the first was Jason’s father being killed by his greedy brother and again when Jason broke his vows to the Gods to remain only with Medea. Those broken vows led to consequences no one could have foreseen, as Medea, feeling gravely betrayed by Jason, took her vengeance upon him by murdering his children by her and his other wife as well as the woman in question. It is a good lesson to be learned throughout as one must think of the consequences of their actions prior to acting on those choices. By blindly following a set course without considering ramifications of his decisions, many events took place that quite possibly could have been averted had Jason chosen to view other options. However, there is one other message given through the narrative. This one is a more encouraging one as it tells the assemblage that one should not just easily give up under duress and overwhelming odds. For another to say that it is impossible and accept it, the person is giving up not just on the task, but also themselves. Perseverance can lead to great things, just be careful it is not at the cost of things the person is not eager or willing to part with easily. The greatest value of good storytelling is the ability to reach out to the audience and draw them in with anecdotes that people will identify with. In order for a storyteller hold an audience, they must find ways to keep their interest as well as draw upon events and emotions that are generally understood by most people, keeping them in the moment and to make them feel as if they themselves are a part of the saga being told. Once the reader or listener is caught up with the story, it is easier for the storyteller to inject moral lessons for them to learn from and adapt into their own lives. The primary importance of including a lesson within a story versus explaining a set of guidelines is that one can weave a cautionary tale into a greater story beyond the lesson itself, keeping the audience enraptured while hopefully allowing them to see the errors of the characters in order to learn from their mistakes. Guidelines are more difficult to follow as many people instinctively resist being told how or what to think without any narrative for the audience to follow and affiliate with their own lives. An effective lesson is one that allows people to draw their own conclusions from the lesson without forcing them to resist the instruction.

References:
Wood, M. (2005, Novem). pbs.org. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/mythsandheroes/myths_four_jason.html

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