The Odyssey Archetype

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The archetypes of the Hero and Hero’s Journey are repeated across many works of literature which involve the development and maturation of a previously immature character. In Homer’s The Odyssey, the characterization of Odysseus fits the hero archetype. Like a typical hero, he faces many tests and challenges on his journey, but unlike a typical hero his greatest challenge is not to defeat a monster but to reunite with his wife. He is cunning and a good strategist, making him similar to but also very different from Bilbo Baggins, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. An archetype is a universal pattern in literature (“Archetypes” 1). The Hero archetype is a character whose consists of a series of adventures. They leave their birthplace and return…show more content…
He was the king of Ithaca (Staiger), so it can be inferred that he had a good reputation. His wife was Penelope, and they had a son, Telemachus (Staiger). Odysseus dreams of going home, and is forlorn when he is trapped on Calypso’s island (Homer 717-718). He fears losing Penelope, which is shown when he kills all of her suitors and weeps with joy when they are finally reunited (Homer 778, 779, 783, 784). Odysseus fits the Trickster archetype; he maneuvers situations cleverly and is a strategist, which are his strengths. He is also a careful planner (Young-Eisendrath, Dawson 255, 259, 260, 264). He demonstrates this when Calypso is upset with him because he is leaving her for Penelope. She asks if she can compare to Penelope, to which Odysseus replies that Calypso is beautiful, but he still yearns for home (Homer 719). He also demonstrates this when he stabs Polyphemus, the Cyclops, blinding him, then tells him that his name is Nohbdy (Homer 727), which prevents Polyphemus from knowing his name and, when Polyphemus tells other Cyclopes that he was stabbed, prevents people believing he stabbed Polyphemus, as Polyphemus says “Nohbdy” stabbed him (Homer 728). However, Odysseus also has weaknesses; he is prideful. This is also his fatal flaw, as his pride causes him to taunt Polyphemus and tell the Cyclops his name, his father’s name, and where he’s from, which prompts Polyphemus to pray to Poseidon, his father, and ask Poseidon to keep Odysseus from reaching home (Homer 730-733). This causes several problems for Odysseus when he’s trying to go home, which is why his pride is his fatal

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