The Odyssey is an epic poem written by Homer. The poem explores Odysseys experiences after the fall of Troy. The story is divided into two parts. The story is set in the Ancient Greece. Many literally scholars argue that it was set in the 8th century in a place called Ionia. It is after a Troy war that the story was written. This paper will examine the reader response of the poem The Odyssey by Homer.
The first part of the story tells us how the going is in Ithaca. Odysseys wife and son are waiting for their father to return but many people assume e is dead. There are many suitors who are asking for Penelopes hand in marriage but she doesnt accept any. Her son Telemachus with the aid of Athena starts to look for his father and how they can rescue him.
The second part of the story is on odyssey. After spending seven years in held by Calypso he finally leaves the island. His journey is quite adventurous with his people. He undergoes a lot of challenges on his way and has to seek the gods help every now and then. After many challenges however he makes it to his home but alone, none of his men had survived the journey. He pretends to be a beggar and has to organize a fight for the suitable suitor for his wife. He wins the fight and reunites with his wife and son. However, the people are not happy since he had killed their sons.
Homer has explored different thematic concerns in his story, Odyssey. The thematic concerns will help the reader understand the characters. Firstly, he has presented the theme of hospitality. This theme may not be popular in todays literature but was common in Homers time. Fagles and Knox argue that hospitality was a dominant thing and was the world should uphold the high standard of conduct. Hospitality is greatly observed in his home, where all the unruly suitors are accepted by his wife and his son since they are weak and cannot control the suitors. Also, in his journey he encounters many people, some who are hospitable and others who are not. Secondly, there is the theme of vengeance. The characters who develop this theme are Poseidon and Odyssey. Poseidon does this by making sure all the people who sail with Odyssey die on the way while Odyssey revenges by killing all suitors and disloyal servants in his household. Thirdly, the theme of appearance verses reality is also developed. Athena keeps on changing the appearance of Odyssey to get some things, like on his journey.
The stylistic devices that have been employed in the Odyssey are the same styles applied in epic poems. They include similes, metaphors and elevated language. The elevated language aspect is mostly observed in the original version since translations cannot present it in the best way. Another device employed is use of similes. Examples of these are; as a blacksmith plunges a glowing ax or adze / in an ice-cold bath and the metal screeches steam / and its temper hardens.(9.438-41) Penelopes joy is expressed as;joy, warm as the joy that shipwrecked sailors feel / when they catch sight of land.(23.262-63 in Fangles).
Homer has presented the poem very well. He has used his characters to develop the thematic concerns. Odyssey has been to develop the theme of hospitality. In his home the suitors are taking advantage on his peoples hospitality and misuse his wealth. Because of this he murders them when he gets home. Also, Poseidon has also been used by the author to develop the theme of vengeance. He revenges for his daughter by making sure Odyssey suffers on his journey though his fate was decided by the gods.
Also, the author used the setting to develop the plot of the story. Without the geographical shifts the plot of the story would not be developed (Tompkins, Jane P, 1980). Thus, the setting has really helped the author develop the plot of the story and the story as a whole.
The Odyssey, however, has its own shortcomings. The story has many exaggerations which are clearly seen as exaggerations. The gods changing peoples form is not normal and cannot happen in the normal circumstances. The story will not be well understood by people of the modern day because it has a lot of the past in it. Many of these experiences like what conspired between the people and the gods will be seen as anti religious happenings. The many suitors thing will also make less sense to todays literature students since they are not happening in todays world.
In conclusion, The Odyssey is an epic poetry book that is very important in the ancient literature. It has all the features of epic poetry and is well presented. Also, the thematic concern has been well explored and presented. The characters have been used well to explore the themes. Also, themes have been used to develop and express different character traits. The setting has also been effectively used to develop the plot seen above. In short, the book is well written and easily understandable. This author has presented the work well and this is beneficial to literature.
Tompkins, Jane P., ed. Reader-response criticism: From formalism to post-structuralism. JHU Press, 1980.
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