Who is Sisyphus? Why is he mentioned in the poem?

QuestionsWho is Sisyphus? Why is he mentioned in the poem?
otzer asked 7 years ago

Explain the reference of Sisyphus in the poem Breaking Out by Marge Piercy.

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1 Answers
Staff answered 7 years ago

In Greek mythology Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for his deceitful activities by being forced to roll a large boulder up a hill only to see it roll back down again. It was a futile effort, repeating this action for eternity. Tasks that are both laborious and futile are therefore described as Sisyphean. Read more on Wikipedia
In Marge Piercy’s poem ‘Breaking Out’, the speaker is a young girl who raises her voice against the ill-treatment of women in the society. When she read the story of Sisyphus in the school, she found a similarity between Sisyphus and her mother. Her mother continued to scrub the floor on raw knees and the factories continued to deposit ash and make it dusty again. Still she used to do it time and again without any protest. She was as submissive as Sisyphus, without any sign of improvement. The poet pledges not to be like Sisyphus, doing useless domestic chores all day. She wants to pursue her own dreams and wishes.

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