Nate Gordon

ENGL 213.02

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Exercise 5: The Voice of the Shuttle


            In his 1969 article, “The Voice
of the Shuttle: Language from the Point of View of Literature,” Geoffrey
Hartman identifies the connection between the voice of the shuttle and the myth of Philomela. Hartman explains
that the frequent allusion is derived from a lost play written by Sophocles, an
ancient Greek tragedian and is referenced by Aristotle in his Poetics. Sophocles’ play, the Tereus, tells the story of how Tereus
raped his sister-in-law, Philomela, and cut out her tongue. In response,
Philomela wove a tapestry depicting what Tereus did to her; Sophocles referred
to this as the “voice of shuttle” (Hartman 240). The woven tapestry of art allows
Philomela’s sister, Procne, to learn what Tereus did (Ovid VI. 588)

Oxford English Dictionary defines shuttle as “An
instrument used in weaving…” (OED Online).

In the myth of Philomela, the heroine used a shuttle to construct the woven
tapestry which allowed others to learn of her rape.

In his article, Hartman explains that through literature
the myth of Philomela exists metonymically and through synecdoche (Hartman
241). In response to Hartman’s article, Patricia Klindienst Joplin argues that Hartman
does not acknowledge that the story of Philomela is primarily about “the
violated woman’s emergence from silence” (Joplin 36). Because the story of
Philomela is so well known through ancient sources, Philomela and the voice of
the shuttle are frequently used in modern literature to represent a method
by which an otherwise muted voice can be heard.









Works Cited

Geoffrey. “The Voice of the Shuttle: Language from the Point of View of
Literature.” The Review of Metaphysics,
vol. 23, no. 2, Dec. 1969, pp. 240–258. Philosophy
Education Society Inc.,

Lynn  A., and Brenda R. Silver, editors. Rape and Representation. Columbia
University Press, 1991.

and E. J. Kenney. Metamorphoses.

Translated by A. D. Melville, Oxford University Press, 2008.

n.2” OED Online, Oxford University Press,
January 2018,

Accessed 28 January 2018.