Odysseus. The first time we meet Odysseus is in book five, previous to this we have only heard about him, from the gods, his family, and his friends.

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In “The Odyssey”, Odysseus is the main character.  After the Trojan War, Odysseus never made it home.  When we first heard of Odysseus’ whereabouts the powerful goddess, the Nymph Calypso, was holding him captive on the island of Ogygia.  The only god who disliked Odysseus was Poseidon, “who pursued the heroic Odysseus with relentless malice.”(b.1/l.20).  “The Odyssey” is about Odysseus’ journey home.  I will look at his character in the first six books.

The characters in a novel are attributed certain characteristics by the author. The opinions one might form of a character are based on these; therefore, the characteristics suggested by an author are intrinsic to the reader having a complete and subjective understanding of a work.  Characteristics are often displayed through a character’s actions, in what is said about them, and what they themselves say, others often speak of Odysseus, in The Odyssey of Homer, but their own words are telling, as certain emotions and traits can be seen.  Traits of a character can often be masked or distorted by favourable or unfavourable descriptions by others, but their own speech, often clearly shows character flaws and attributes that one might not come across otherwise.  Strict narration often polarizes a character, casting them as black or white, good or evil.  However, in most writings, and certainly in The Odyssey, the speech of a character allows us to see the various shades of grey, thus portraying the character more fairly. 

Odysseus was a powerful man, lording over his own small kingdom.  Odysseus shares the same love of his homeland, his people, and his wife.  He says that it is his  "never-failing wish” to see the "happy day of (his) return" (b.5/l.221).  Although not clearly laid out for all to see, it is no less evident that he feels a certain respect, perhaps even servitude, to his country from which he has been absent so long.  Our hero professes this duty, devotion, and patriotism, on an individual and on a larger scale.   However, humility is a trait one would be hard- pressed to find in this ruler.  A devotion of one’s self to family and country is a part of his character.  He is able to uphold his dignity, essentially maintaining that which is central to his character.  This also speaks to the strength of the character in the face of adversity, a test that Odysseus passes.  Although Odysseus’ physical characteristics are impressive, his character is far more appealing.  He is described as a luckless man, but also as kind, wise, brave, and fearless.  With Odysseus’ physical strengths he could choose to be fierce and controlling, but instead he chooses to be kind and fair.  His emotional stability creates a likable heroic character.

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The first time we meet Odysseus is in book five, previous to this we have only heard about him, from the gods, his family, and his friends.  Athene described him as “the wise and unlucky Odysseus,”(b.1/l.48).  We also heard from his friend Menelaus, of how astonishing he was; “it was Odysseus who strove…”(b.4/l.107), “…all the daring feats of dauntless Odysseus.”(b.4/l.240).  From the amazing remarks, when we do see him, we are expecting an amazing, strong soldier, who never wishes to give up hope.  Instead what we encountered was “…him sitting on the shore.  His eyes were wet with weeping…”(b.5/l.151).  Instead ...

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