Study Guide

Echo and Narcissus Echo

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Recap: Echo is a supper chatty Oread (mountain nymph). We're not entirely sure who her parents are, but we do know a few other key facts: (1) she lost her voice to Hera. (Really, what do you expect when you try to stop Hera from hunting down Zeus?); (2) she fell hard for Narcissus; (3) her mega-crush didn't work out well for her. And that's Echo in a nutshell.

On the surface Echo seems like a pretty straightforward character. She's the victim of the story, right? Readers are meant to identify with her and feel sorry for her. Really, who hasn't been rejected at some point in their life? We have, and it hurts. (So keep coming back and reading our stuff, it makes us feel good.)

Sure, Echo goes to some extreme measures in pursuing Narcissus. Sure, she goes a little crazy after she's rejected. But sometimes love makes us do crazy things, right? Come on, she's had her voice taken away from her and everything. Feel sorry for her!

But hold on a second. From a different perspective, she seems a little sketch, right? Let's take a closer look: she doesn't immediately reveal herself when she first catches Narcissus hunting. Instead, she creeps around the forest spying on him, waiting for him to say something juicy. We have a word for that. It's called stalking.

"But wait," you might say. "She doesn't reveal herself because she can't speak." Yeah? So what? She's never played charades? You know, charades… that game where you make gestures and try to get people to guess what you're acting out? Wait, you've never played charades?

The point is, she could have revealed herself and made some hand gestures or drawn in the dirt or something. She could have stepped out and just kept quiet. Instead she only shows herself after Narcissus makes a comment that could be seen as an invitation. A dirty invitation. Then, when she's rejected, she retreats to a cave and pines over Narcissus until her body literally turns to dust. Obsessed much? So yeah, from this point of view, it's much harder to feel sorry for the girl.

Either way, we have to be grateful for this little nymph. Without her, we wouldn't be able to shout "Hello!" at the top of our lungs in the Grand Canyon and hear it echo—yep, Echo—right back.

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