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Themes

Helen of Troy is known for being beautiful. In fact, she's known for being the most beautiful woman, well, ever. But in the poem "Helen," it's hard to access that beauty. H.D.'s Helen is wan and pale and still. We see no beauty or verve, just deathly pallor. It's like her beauty has become frozen—like she's become a statue.

Questions About Appearances

  1. Has Helen's beauty totally evaporated in this poem? Or has it just morphed into something different? 
  2. How responsible is Helen for the way she looks? Does she have any control over it? 
  3. How responsible is Helen for the Trojan war? Can we fairly blame it on her beauty? Or do you think that there are other circumstances that lead to the war? 
  4. Do you agree that Helen seems like a statue or work of art in the poem? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Helen is responsible for her beauty and its power.

We can't help our appearances; we're not responsible for the way others perceive us.

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