Perseus and Andromeda
Theme of Sacrifice in Perseus and Andromeda
At the beginning of the tale, Andromeda is about to be fed to the Cetus, a sea monster. Her father and mother have decided to sacrifice their daughter so that their kingdom can be saved. The idea of sacrificing a virgin or a beautiful maiden remains a pretty common story element in literature and popular entertainment today. In King Kong, the natives try to sacrifice the beautiful girl to everybody's favorite giant ape. In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, love interest Willie Scott is almost sacrificed by the bloody cult that Indi is up against. The sacrificing-the-helpless-girl trope does seem a bit dated, we have to admit. Still, the challenging decision about whether it's okay to sacrifice a loved one for the greater good never gets old.
Questions About Sacrifice
- If you were in King Cepheus' position, would you make the same decision? Would you sacrifice a loved one if it meant you could save your whole kingdom? Why or why not?
- What other examples of human sacrifice in literature and popular entertainment can you think of? (For Shmoop, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the Hunger Games series come to mind…)
- Are there any other kinds of sacrifice in the myth of Perseus and Andromeda besides the literal sacrifice of Andromeda?