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Echo and Narcissus Commonlit Answers

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  • 10th Grade
  • Lexile: 1140

Source: Echo and Narcissus by Ovid

Which TWO of the following best describe a central theme of the text?Knowing one’s self, or identity, can prevent disaster.

Love can be a powerful – and even treacherous – emotion
How does Tiresias’s prophecy affect the plot of the story?Tiresias predicts that Narcissus will live a long life as long as he does not see his reflection; when he does, it leads to his tragic end.
PART A: What impact does the figurative language used to describe Echo’s love for Narcissus in paragraph 3 have on the overall meaning of the text?The text describes Echo as burning, being inflamed with her love for Narcissus; this contributes to the myth’s meaning about consuming and dangerous love.
PART B: Which of the following quotes regarding Narcissus’s love for himself supports the answer to Part A?“Nor food nor rest can draw him thence—outstretched upon the overshadowed green, his eyes fixed on the mirrored image never may know their longings satisfied, and by their sight he is himself undone.” (Paragraph 6)

In paragraph 5 the narrative point of view briefly shifts. How does this shift of the text’s narrative point of view affect the text as a whole? Cite evidence from the text in your answer.

The narrative point of view in paragraph 5 shifts to focus on Narcissus’s inner thoughts and feelings, particularly as he discovers and falls in love with his own reflection.

This shift from a more detached, third-person narration to a closer, almost first-person perspective on Narcissus’s experience allows the reader to gain insight into the depth of Narcissus’s self-obsession and delusion.

The text states, “He cannot move, for so he marvels at himself, and lies with countenance unchanged as if indeed a statue carved of Parian marble.”

This description not only visualizes Narcissus’s fixation but also symbolizes the static nature of his life from that point onward, as he becomes incapable of looking away from his reflection.

The use of “he marvels at himself” and the comparison to a statue highlight his self-admiration and the beginning of his downfall.

Further, the shift intensifies the tragedy of Narcissus’s situation. By providing a glimpse into his thoughts, such as “He knows not what he there beholds, but what he sees inflames his longing, and the error that deceives allures his eyes,” the text underscores the irony and the fatal flaw in Narcissus’s character—his inability to recognize the illusion for what it is.

This internal perspective makes his eventual fate—dying as a result of his inability to attain the object of his desire—more poignant for the reader.

This narrative shift affects the text as a whole by deepening the reader’s understanding of Narcissus’s character and the themes of the story, such as the dangers of self-love and the inability to see beyond one’s desires.

It draws the reader closer to Narcissus’s experience, making his eventual demise not only a conclusion to his story but also a broader cautionary tale about the perils of excessive self-absorption and the inability to see beyond oneself.

Discussion Answers

Is Narcissus truly in love? Why or why not?

Narcissus’s situation is complex and can be interpreted in various ways depending on one’s understanding of love.

However, considering the story’s context and the nature of his obsession, it could be argued that Narcissus is not truly in love, at least not in a conventional or healthy sense. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Lack of Another Person: Traditional concepts of love involve deep affection towards another person. Narcissus’s “love” is directed at his own reflection in the water. This reflection, while it appears to be another person, is actually just an image of himself. Hence, his love is not directed towards another being but is instead a form of self-obsession or extreme narcissism.
  2. Absence of Reciprocity: Love typically involves some form of reciprocity, where feelings are shared, understood, and reciprocated between individuals. In the case of Narcissus, there is no possibility of reciprocity because his love is for an inanimate reflection that cannot love him back. This unreciprocated “love” leads to his downfall, highlighting the destructive nature of his obsession rather than the mutual support and growth often associated with love.
  3. Self-Deception and Illusion: Narcissus’s love is based on a deception; he falls in love with an image without realizing it is himself. True love requires knowledge and acceptance of the other person, flaws and all. Narcissus’s inability to recognize the reflection as his own indicates a lack of self-awareness and understanding, which are crucial components of deep, meaningful love.
  4. Destructive Consequences: Love, in its healthiest form, is nurturing and life-affirming. In contrast, Narcissus’s obsession leads to his own destruction. He neglects his needs for food, water, and human connection, ultimately leading to his death. This outcome contrasts starkly with the constructive and positive effects that love usually has on individuals.

While Narcissus experiences an intense and consuming passion, it is more accurate to characterize his feelings as a form of self-obsession or infatuation with an idealized image, rather than true love.

His “love” lacks the key elements defining genuine affection, such as mutual recognition, reciprocity, and nurturing well-being, leading to tragic rather than fulfilling outcomes.

How are people affected by love in this text? Is it positive or negative?

In the text of “Echo and Narcissus,” love affects the characters profoundly negatively, leading to suffering, unfulfilled desires, and ultimately, destruction.

Echo: Echo falls deeply in love with Narcissus, but her love is unrequited. Her affection for him only leads to heartache and rejection. As a consequence of her unreciprocated love, she fades away to nothing but a voice, losing her bodily form and her very essence in the process.

This transforation is a direct result of the pain and longing that come from her unreturned love, illustrating how love, when not reciprocated, can lead to a loss of self.

Narcissus: Narcissus’s experience with love is entirely self-focused and ultimately leads to his downfall. After rejecting the affections of many, he falls in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, not realizing it is himself he sees.

His infatuation is so intense that he is unable to leave the reflection, leading him to neglect his basic needs and eventually die by the poolside. Narcissus’s love for his reflection is a stark representation of how an obsessive, inwardly directed love that lacks any form of real connection or understanding can be self-destructive.

General Impact: The story also briefly touches on the effects of Narcissus’s rejection on others who loved him.

While not explored in depth, it’s clear that his beauty and subsequent rejection of those who desired him caused pain and suffering to more than just Echo, indicating a ripple effect of negative consequences stemming from unfulfilled love and rejection.

The portrayal of love in this text is overwhelmingly negative, highlighting its potential to cause harm when it is obsessive, unreciprocated, or based on illusion. Love, in this narrative, leads not to fulfillment and joy but to loneliness, loss, and death.

The story serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of a love that consumes and destroys, rather than nurtures and sustains.

What is the difference between love and infatuation? Explain your answer.

Love and infatuation are both intense emotions that one can feel for another person, but they differ significantly in depth, maturity, and stability.

Understanding these differences is crucial in distinguishing between a deep, enduring connection and a more superficial, fleeting attraction.

  1. Depth and Maturity:
    • Love is a profound, mature emotional and psychological bond that develops over time between individuals. It is characterized by a deep understanding, acceptance of flaws, mutual respect, and a desire for the other’s well-being. Love involves commitment and the willingness to work through challenges and disagreements. It is selfless and considers the needs and happiness of the other person.
    • Infatuation, on the other hand, is often a superficial, intense passion or attraction felt towards another person. It typically occurs at the beginning of a relationship or interaction and is based more on idealization and physical attraction than on a deep understanding of the person. Infatuation is often characterized by obsession, a desire for instant gratification, and a focus on the self’s needs and desires.
  2. Stability and Duration:
    • Love is stable and endures through time, growing stronger and deeper through shared experiences, challenges, and mutual support. It survives the ups and downs of life and can adapt to changes in the individuals and their circumstances.
    • Infatuation is usually short-lived, with the intense feelings fading as quickly as they arose once the object of affection doesn’t meet the idealized image, or once the novelty and excitement wear off. Infatuation is more about the excitement of newness and less about enduring connection.
  3. Perception and Reality:
    • Love sees and accepts the other person as they truly are, flaws and all. It involves a realistic understanding of the other person’s character, recognizing their strengths and weaknesses, and loving them wholly.
    • Infatuation often involves placing the object of affection on a pedestal, overlooking their flaws, and seeing only an idealized version of them. This lack of realistic perception can lead to disappointment and disillusionment when the true nature of the person is revealed.
  4. Emotional Security and Dependency:
    • Love fosters emotional security, independence, and interdependence, where two individuals support each other while maintaining their own identities and personal growth.
    • Infatuation can lead to emotional dependency and insecurity, where one’s happiness and self-worth are overly dependent on the other person’s feelings and attention.

While love is a deep, enduring, and mature bond that accepts the reality of another person and thrives on mutual respect and growth, infatuation is a more superficial, intense, and short-lived passion that is often based on idealization and physical attraction.

Recognizing the difference between these two emotions is key to understanding the nature of one’s feelings and the potential for a lasting and fulfilling relationship.

In the context of this text, how does love emerge? How does this story inform your understanding of love? Use evidence from this text, your own experience, and other works of art or literature to answer this question.

In the context of “Echo and Narcissus,” love emerges in various flawed and tragic forms, each highlighting different aspects of love’s complexity and the potential pitfalls of its misinterpretations.

This story, through its characters and their experiences, provides a multifaceted exploration of love, infatuation, and self-obsession.

  1. Emergence of Love in the Text:
    • Echo’s Love for Narcissus: Echo’s love for Narcissus emerges as a result of her sudden infatuation upon seeing him. Her love, however, is unreciprocated and based on a physical attraction and idealization of Narcissus without truly knowing him. This one-sided love leads to her despair and eventual fading away, highlighting the pain of unrequited love and the importance of mutual feelings in a loving relationship.
    • Narcissus’s Love for Himself: Narcissus’s love emerges when he sees his reflection in the water and, not recognizing himself, falls in love with the image. This self-love is the epitome of infatuation, based entirely on physical appearance and devoid of any deeper emotional or intellectual connection. It illustrates the dangers of excessive self-love and narcissism, where the inability to see beyond oneself can lead to isolation and tragedy.
  2. Understanding of Love from the Story:
    • The story underlines the importance of reciprocity, depth, and understanding in love. True love requires knowing and accepting the other person wholly, including their flaws, which is absent in both Echo’s and Narcissus’s experiences.
    • It also warns against the dangers of infatuation and self-obsession, showing how these can lead to a lack of fulfillment and even self-destruction. Love that is one-sided or based solely on physical appearance lacks the foundation necessary for a lasting and meaningful relationship.
  3. Insights from Personal Experience and Other Works:
    • Personal experiences and cultural narratives often reinforce the idea that love should be mutual, respectful, and based on more than just physical attraction or idealization. Healthy relationships involve communication, mutual support, and the ability to grow together.
    • Literary works like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice explore the development of love that moves beyond initial prejudices and misunderstandings to deep appreciation and understanding of another’s character. Similarly, the tragic love in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet serves as a caution against the impulsive and reckless nature of young love and the importance of overcoming external conflicts.

In summary, “Echo and Narcissus” contributes to an understanding of love as a complex and multifaceted emotion that can be both enriching and destructive, depending on its nature and how it is pursued.

The story emphasizes the need for love to be based on mutual respect, understanding, and the recognition of the other’s true self, beyond mere physical attraction or infatuation.

Through the tragic outcomes of its characters, the myth warns against the dangers of unrequited love and narcissism, advocating for a more balanced and self-aware approach to loving others and oneself.

Other Commonlit Answers

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