David Malouf’s Ransom portrays a strong connection between Achilles and Patroclus which is evident from their love for one another. Through the loss of Patroclus however, Achilles experiences a great deal of pain that comes from a sense of death, grief and loss, all of which are prominent themes within Malouf’s adaptation of the Iliad, Ransom.
After the passing of Patroclus, Achilles looses all that is humane inside him, his anger concocted from his refusal to be consoled after Patroclus’ death sending him spiralling out of control and beyond recognition, violating every moral code by which he lives by. Achilles’ daily violation of Hector’s body in conjunction with his throbbing sense of grief and its yearning for a cure has caused Achilles to undergo a self transformation where he questions not only his past and present life, but also his future.
Achilles and Patroclus share a bond which is much greater than the love shared between adoptive brothers. This was evident from when they met at an early age, Patroclus becoming Achilles “new centre” clarifying that Patroclus’ emergence into the life of Achilles was now worth more than anything in his (Achilles) world. The death of Patroclus however was like a blow to the heart of Achilles, his whole world gone forever, his universe no longer existent.
As a child, Achilles was taught to conceal his feelings and to not portray to others how he felt but this belief, this show of strength was still reminiscent in his mind for he never learnt how to cope with grief and more so, the grief involved with the death of Patroclus. At the time of the death of Patroclus “the tears he brings (brought), fall (fell) inwardly, his cheeks are (were) dry” suggesting that Achilles still to this moment, had his emotions built up inside him but just never knew how to communicate them because he was never taught how.
Unknowingly, Achilles confronts and kills Hector believing that this will in turn liberate and put him at ease from this sense of loss and grief inside him, however it “was like trying to deceive or outguess his shadow, aiming beyond Hector, at himself” and once that blade pierced the soft flesh of the gullet, Achilles had “felt his soul change colour” indicating a change within, his once illusive, changeable and unpredictable nature becoming dark and empty, almost soulless.
Achilles, trained and brought up by the moral codes of the warrior, was now undergoing a change, his soul and somewhat immature antics on and off the field of battle were now gone. His soul torn from his pure hearted nature and now empty he defiles the body of Hector, plunging his sword into his unprotected flesh. Slashing his tendons, Achilles ties Hector to his chariot and drags him along the barren land. Many of his men question his actions and exactly what it was that their leader was doing.
In brief moments of the novel, we see Achilles question himself after being given the ill fated news that he would not long outlive Hector. Searching for the vague image of his mother, Achilles comes to accept the fact that “it will end here on the beach in the treacherous shingle, or out there on the plain”, he anticipates his death for he is sure that like any human walking on his father’s element, he too will soon return. However a voice deep inside “some part of himself, the young man he is resists” for although he has come to accept his death, still longs for more time.
After the death of Patroclus, Achilles begins to question whether he should depart from his element earth or remain and continue on in a life without his beloved Patroclus. That little voice inside his head no longer calls out to him just as it had, instead he longed to be with Patroclus, “Just a little longer, Patroclus. Can you hear me? Soon, now. Soon” for he was now ready to leave, ready to be there in the next world with Patroclus. Dual personalities come into play when we consider how Achilles had transformed and the way Malouf entails great detail into this process.
Achilles deals with an enormous sense of anger when he finds out that Patroclus had died, his rage taken out upon the body of Hector, where he would leave it out to rot and let nature’s wrath plague Hector’s body. Unlike a normal being, Achilles was never given the tools to cope and deal with his emotions, “never permitting himself to betray to others what he felt “, instead he was always told to keep then locked up inside. When he could no longer control his emotions, everything that was inside, everything that was locked away from the world, came out.
Taking his rage upon Hector was at the time the only logical thought through Achilles’ mind but little was he aware that this would turn out for the worse, sending him spiralling into a state of despair. That boy who once was drawn to his mother’s nature, to be free, fluidlike and without substance had now become someone who was not even recognisable to his own men. Although Malouf downplays the death of Hector, he places great emphasis upon the emotions and changes taking place within Achilles.
Malouf’s adaptation of the Iliad explores the realms of the characters in much detail as well as exploring how the characters, through certain emotions and feelings, undergo change and transform for better or for worse. The great detail applied in Achilles case shows that he had undergone a change, turning grief into anger, a transformation in which he was torn from his true self. Moreover, the loss of Patroclus really hit Achilles hard, but through this, Achilles was able to question his life and more so learn that strength isn’t gained from holding back emotions, but rather letting them loose.