Characters Analysis in The Odyssey

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Ever done something without really thinking about it? Ever done something that you didn’t really like, but still did it anyway? That’s what my essay is about, to understand the characters. If you ever read the Odyssey, you would appreciate the varied character portrayal and complexity of their relationships. But what are the characters’ personalities? What drives these characters? The Odyssey is a very big story of one mortal vs. an entire kingdom of Gods and the quest to fulfill a prophecy. Although there are several characters in this epic, I have decided to pick four of the more influential personalities for the purpose of in depth understanding of their characteristics. They are Odysseus, Telemachus, Penelope, and Athena.

Odysseus has pointed characteristics of a leader, namely strength, courage, nobility, a distinct crave for glory, and self confidence. However, out of all this, his itelligence stands out the most. Odysseus has the unique ability of thinking on his feet, that helps him in some very tough situations, like when he escapes from the cave of the Cyclops in Book 9. He also has great ability to talk in convincing way to impress his listeners like when he first addresses Nausicaa on the island of Scheria, he wins her trust. Like other Homer heroes, Odysseus wishes to complete Nostos and gain glory doing great deeds.

However his glory-seeking behavior gets the better of him like when he attacks the land of the Cicones significant manpower and time is lost. Although he enjoys his life with Calypso, he wishes to return home and to his wife. There is also references of him missing home the time he spends with the Phaeacians and on Circe’s island. Early in his adventures, Odysseus’s need for glory makes him indulge in behavior that brings Poseidon’s wrath on him. But by the end of the epic, he matures enough to develop restraint like when he is disguised as a beggar he endures abuse until he is secured to strike back effectively.

When the Odyssey begins, Odysseus’ son Telemachus is still a young kid. Although he is committed to taking care of his mother and protecting his father’s estate, he doesn’t have the skills to protect them from the suitors. Telemachus’ meeting with Athena in Book 1 changes things when she teaches him the responsibilities of a young prince. Gaining confidence, he stands up to the suitors to stop the abuse of his estate. Telemachus’ character has a good heart, sharp mind, a short temper, and a slight absent mindedness, however, his talents do not match that of Odysseus. In Book 22, he accidentally leaves a weapons storeroom unlocked, a careless mistake that proves costly. The scene with the bow where he tries to string it, but fails. This episode tells us that at the end of the Odyssey, Telemachus still cannot match his father’s skills.

Separation from Odysseus, and facing pressure from the suitors to remarry, Penelope never loses faith in her husband. Her personality is anxious and excitable and for this reason, Odysseus, Telemachus, and Athena often kept her in the dark about matters. For instance, Athena must distract her so that she does not find out about Odysseus when Eurycleia is washing him. Penelope also has been portrayed to have been depressed. Athena appears in her dreams to comfort her. Penelope character is also very clever and had the ability to convince people skillfully. Her love for Odysseus is very strong, hence she never refuses to remarry upon the suitors’ insistence. However, she makes them promises that she will choose a new husband as soon as some things happen. She smartly decides not to remarry until she completes a burial ritual which buys her time. Her decision to marry whomever wins the archery contest of Book 21 is because she knows only her husband can win it.

As goddess of wisdom and battle, Athena naturally affinity towards the brave Odysseus. She helps him in tough situations, like the shipwreck in Book 5 and the battle of Book 22. However, she does not grant wisdom and bravery right away, the recipient has to work for it. She takes an interest in Odysseus because he demonstrates the talent. Although she stands by Odysseus during the battle with the suitors, she does not actively participate in the

battle instead prefers to watch Odysseus fight and come out victor. She also helps Telemachus when she sends him off to Pylos and Sparta to earn a name for himself but she has the most affection for Odysseus. Athena is smart, confident, and a great warrior, characteristics she finds in Telemachus as well, yet odysseus remains her object of affection. She is very supportive of Penelope and helps her cope with her problems by appearing in her dreams.

The four characters in the epic Odyssey are strong willed personalities and protagonists in their own way. Each of them have played a role in shaping this masterpiece and have contributed significantly to the story line. The complexities involved in the character portrayal and their relationships to fellow characters renders this masterpiece a work of art.

Cite this paper

Characters Analysis in The Odyssey. (2022, Feb 10). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/characters-analysis-in-the-odyssey/

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