Cassandra was packed with themes of feminism. In the novel, the titular character Cassandra was the god Apollo's priestess. When she did not agree to have sex with him, Apollo cursed her. She can prophesy the future, but no one will believe her. Paris, warrior and Cassandra's brother, stole Helen, a beautiful woman of Sparta, which then sparks the Trojan War in. At the end of the novel, Cassandra forsees the destruction of Troy. Towards the end of the war, Aeneas offers Cassandra to leave Troy with him and to conquer a new land to call home. She chooses not to go, was abducted, and killed in Mycenae.
The literary world has been male dominated. In the article MALE LEADS IN FICTION SELL 10 MILLION MORE BOOKS ON AVERAGE THAN FEMALE LEADS, over 70% of best-selling fiction is written by men as of 2020. The author, Christa Wolf, wrote Cassandra after reading Aeschylus' rendition of Cassandra in Oresteia. Not because she felt inspired; she felt like Cassandra was undermined and objectified as an important female character. Wolf related to Cassandra and wanted to humanize her. Both women experienced times of war, and Wolf wanted to draw attention to present day feminist issues that have dated as far back as to the Trojan War. One particular moment that stood out for me was at the end of the narrative: Cassandra choosing not to go with Aeneas when Troy is almost completely destroyed. Cassandra tells Aeneas that she "cannot love a hero" and "does not want to see [him] turned into a statue" (138). In novels written by male, they all follow a structure: a woman in distress, the male character saves her, the town, and is a hero. (Take at John Green's Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns.) The myth and Wolf's novel reject the patriarchy: Cassandra accepts her fate and therefore is her own hero. To be a hero does not mean going out of your way to conquer all or rescue people who may not be saving; I believe being a hero is knowing when the fight no longer has purpose. Cassandra was a priestess for Apollo; when she had the opportunity to commit suicide, she remained strong. Cassandra is her own hero.
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