Endurance Of The Human Spirit The Iliad and the movie Precious, based on the novel Push by Saphire, both share a common theme where the main characters depict an uncommon endurance of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Although in The Iliad, war is horrible and bloody, the spirit of Achilles is never broken by this adversity because, like Precious, who suffers physical, mental, and sexual abuse at the hands of her parents, their human spirit is the driving force behind their desire to overcome their challenges. As a result, the endurance of their human spirit is strengthened and they emerge victorious.
These two characters reflect the uncommon strength of the human spirit because when their body is defeated, or their mind is loaded with emotion, this drive within them pushes their limits. A character analysis of Achilles and Precious is farfetched because they are two very distinct characters in two very different worlds. According to Greek Mythology Achilles' character existed long before the biblical Jesus Christ. This means he lived more than 3000 years ago, whereas Precious, is a an illiterate, obese 16-year-old girl with two children who lives in the New York City ghetto of Harlem.
However, these two distinct characters have commonality when we look beyond their physical being and look within their souls. Here, Achilles and Precious possess an unyielding human spirit that serves as an engine that keeps them moving forward in the face of impossibility. From a superficial analysis, Achilles and Precious are both warriors in their own ways. It is obvious that Achilles is a warrior because he is one who fights in the armies of Kings and battles enemies for gain. He is no ordinary fighter, but a fearless and skilled one who is recruited for his physical strength and success.
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Agamemnon enlists him to fight for his army when he goes to war with the Trojans because he is aware of his exceptional skill. Therefore, in his own eyes and in the eyes of others, Achilles is a warrior. This characterization is not as obvious when we analyze Precious. Precious is a warrior even though she does not know it and others do not regard her as one. She became a warrior because she was born into a family of physical and sexual abuse. At the age of 3, her father started to sexually abuse her and her mother's constant humiliation only served to degrade her.
However, it was due to this unfortunate circumstance the she developed into a warrior. Precious is battling her drug addicted, alcoholic, and emotionally unstable mother. In the movie there is a scene where she is at the top of the stairs in her home, with her mother below tossing a pan at her while telling her that she is "stupid bitch (Precious). " In this case, her parents are the enemies she has to defeat to survive. This can destroy you unless you have a strong will. Each has a reason to develop a drive to prevail.
It is this strong desire to overcome in the face of physical impossibilities that sets them apart from ordinary people. Achilles and Precious have an inner human spirit that drives them to overcome the obstacles in their lives. Achilles continually strives to be a great fighter because he wants to be remembered after one-thousand years. This is partially his motivation and he demonstrates this when he utters, "You talk of food. I have no taste for food - what I really crave is the slaughter of blood and the choking groans of men. " (Homer 495).
Here, after a successful battle, Agamemnon is commanding that a feast be prepared for the soldiers. Achilles strongly rejects his gift and says that there is no time for eating when he has rage for fighting in his heart. Achilles has only one thing on his mind and that is to fight because his drive is his desire to be recognize. This does not completely characterize Achilles because towards the end of the movie, when he kills Hector, and Priam is begging Achilles for his body, he says, "No more, old man, don't tempt my wrath, not now! Don't stir my raging heart still more.
Or under my own roof I may not spare your life, old man ... suppliant that you are .... " (Homer 606). It is obvious that Achilles has many characteristics. Here, he is fearless, selfish, and at the same time compassionate. Unlike Achilles, whose human spirit was driven by selfish reasons to be grand and recognized, Precious was motivated by a desire to be remembered. Initially, Precious is an insecure, weak and helpless person. Her father rapes her and cannot depend on anyone to defend her. This incestuous relationship is a heavy weight for her to carry.
However, she does eventually gather the strength and stands up for herself. This is very evident when she states, "The other day I cried. But you know what? Fuck that day. That's why God, or whoever, makes other days. "(Precious). Here, we have a powerful statement by Precious who has endured so much emotional and physical abuse. By the time she makes this statement, she has given birth to two children by her own father and has endured enormous mental abused by her mother. Her mother states, "Don't nobody want you, don't nobody need you. (Precious). This type of abuse can cause anyone to commit suicide. It is a crippling experience for most people, but Precious build up the strength to defeat the abuse and believes there is another day. Even though she has given up on the notion of God, she still believes in herself. This is Precious' reflection that her human spirit will survive anything. It may appear that Achilles and Precious do not have anything in common because almost everything about these characters is different, but as their characters develop, we learn otherwise.
First, we have one character who physically survives and the other one dies. However, each one is a warrior in their own way and in their own world. As warriors they must choose between fighting or giving up. What makes both of these characters extraordinary is their inner will to fight challenges that appear insurmountable. Achilles is recognized as a great warrior, but his spirit develops even stronger than his own physical body due to his experience in the battlefield.
Precious also develops into a warrior as she fights the sexual and physical abuses of her parents. She demonstrates that she is a strong person because she ends up being a survivor and not a victim of her parent's abuse. Both of these characters demonstrate that the human spirit does not surrender and will overcome just about anything in life. Works Cited Precious. Dir. Lee Daniels. Perf. Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey. 2009. Film. Troy. Dir. Wolfgang Petersen. Perf. Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom. 2004. Film.
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