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Repetition

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Ever feel like you were stuck in a rut? Just doing the same thing over and over, day after day?

Ever feel like you were stuck in a rut? Just doing the same thing over and over, day after day?

Ever feel like you… hey, wait a second!

Believe it or not, being forced to repeat things—words, actions, days, events—is a classic form of mythological punishment. Life, when it's functioning normally, needs change. Just look at the seasons. Every winter, plants and animals pass away, and every spring, new plants and animals are born. The phases of the moon change, the tides change, and the weather changes. Change is part of life. Because repetition is the opposite of change, we can also think of it as a kind of death. Gasp!

It's no surprise, then, that Echo is doomed to a punishment of only being able to repeat whatever she hears. She can't create anything new and it eventually leads to—yep—her death. Narcissus, too, gets some of this death-from-repetition action. After all, he's forced to live in pretty much the same moment (watching his reflection) for the rest of his life until he withers away and dies.

Here are some other great examples of people doomed to repeat things:

  • The Greek Titan, Prometheus, has his liver torn out by a vulture every day, and every night it grows back. Ick.
  • The Greek King, Sisyphus, rolls a boulder uphill every day. Every time he reaches the top, the boulder rolls back down and he has to start all over. Worst job ever.
  • In Dante's Inferno, sinners are forced to live their sins over and over again (in a pretty graphic and gruesome way) forever.
  • Bill Murray is cursed to live the same 24 hours over and over again in the (amazing) movie Groundhog Day.
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