Masks And Motives: Odysseus's Complex Personality

Better Essays
Masks and Motives: Odysseus’s Complex Personality A man far removed from hearth and family for close to twenty years attempts to recover his nostos. It’s an age old tale that has been revised and retold thousands of times, but at its core it is still relatable to life today. Everyone, no matter how young or old, has searched for the place where they feel they belong. In Odysseus’s case, he was trying to find his beloved wife in Ithaka and reclaim his rule over his kingdom. He is renowned as a great and wise leader, but his actions contradict this time and time again. While Odysseus’s reputation may precede him, he often proves himself unworthy of the eminence associated with his name. He also has a nasty habit of testing the fidelity of his …show more content…
While the seasoned soldiers who accompanied Odysseus wanted to take some food from the kyklops’s cave and leave with their lives, Odysseus decided to wait for the kyklops. Whether this was due to Odysseus’s extreme arrogance (believing that he could beat any foe) or his lack of foresight (never imagining that anyone would dare break the hospitality demanded by Zeus), the audience may never be able to determine; however, his actions led to almost all the men who ventured inland with him to perish in horrific ways. After blinding the kyklops and escaping the island with a few members of the kyklops’s herd, Odysseus had the gall to “bait the beast again” (9. 538) after his crew warned him against it. The arrogance Odysseus shows here is ill befitting the seasoned warrior and renowned king of Ithaka he is rumored to be. This is one of the many instances in this epic where readers see the disparity between the ideal that Odysseus is supposed to represent, the wise king and experienced warrior, and the reality that is the human condition. Humans as a species are imperfect. We get jealous, act irrationally, and we can be a bit too prideful for our own good. Just like Odysseus. He is not a god and …show more content…
He also clearly cared for his crew. His arrogance, hypocrisy, and lack of foresight are not excused by these positive qualities. Odysseus time and time again puts his crew in unnecessary danger and questions the fidelity of others when he has been unfaithful. Odysseus is renowned both in ancient Ithaka and today as a hero and great warrior, but the people who worship him as this figure rarely take into account his follies. His crew is dead mostly due to his folly. His pride led to his long estrangement from home more than bad weather did. He was unfaithful to his wife, and he massacred the best of the young men in Ithaka. Odysseus was not the god-like man people claim him to be, and that’s okay. These flaws in his character show him to be more human and they make him more relatable to the reader. A character who is perfect and god-like is intimidating to read about and unrealistic. As humans we are deeply flawed. It is part of human nature to act because of emotions like desperation, rage and curiosity. Everyone has made mistakes due to not thinking decisions through. When Odysseus makes mistakes, the readers can imagine themselves doing similar things because they understand the motivation behind the decisions he makes. His lack of perfection is what makes this story just as relatable now as it was in Homer’s time, because we are all human and we all have

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    He struggled with his arrogance, vanity, lied to his own men, made costly mistakes, and in the end lost all of his men. He cared more for himself than his men, making him an anti-hero. Therefore Odysseus should not be considered an archetype hero. Throughout the Odyssey, Odysseus seems like the hero that everyone looks up too, but upon deeper thought he made more mistakes then heroism acts. After stabbing Polyphemus in…

    • 650 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Henchard tried to turn all the wrongs into rights from long ago and he succeeded but just made a lot more horrible mistakes. Henchard doesn’t have the values of honor and moral value. Henchard does have the qualities of a worthy man. All Henchard’s worth was in his determination to suffer and in his ability to endure a lot of pain. Henchard carried the burden of his own…

    • 1102 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Jealousy is a very complex emotion, it can often mislead a person from seeing and or acting with a clear mind. Those who allow their jealousy to control their actions often end up destroying their lives by falling victim to it. In Shakespeare’s Othello and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby both protagonists Othello and Gatsby do exactly this. Although, they both prove to be very jealous men, ultimately in the end Gatsby clearly proves to be the more noble character. Othello owes his jealous nature to the fact he’s unwilling to truly trust the ones he loves on account of his own insecurities.…

    • 855 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Another example of how Creon’s pride fullness contributed to his loneliness is when he is told that his son and wife have killed themselves (Sophocles 1390-1414). This is a contribution because it if he was not so prideful he would still have his family. The overall outcome of Creon’s fate could have been prevented if he was not so prideful. His pride is to blame because of the various outcomes such as death that he has called in his family. Creon’s pride sets Polyneices into looking like a villain; however, both can be seen as a villain because they were both after the same goal of trying to gain more power.…

    • 896 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Mainly the “God complex” that they both suffer from is where the problems lie. They both are unhappy with their creations in the end because of the characteristics and actual for that they take. Though in the end Zeus still hold all of the power because he used the power that he had over Prometheus and was able to contain the situation. Whereas Victor was unable to realize that he was being selfish and this is where he lost his life and his families lives. So, when you take the creature and compare him to Prometheus there are similarities that cannot be ignored.…

    • 1470 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    I was never told of the hardships, the hazing, or the games they play to break you down and to degrade you. I was only told of the great respect for the soldiers and for their sacrifice. While it is true, about the great things actually being in the corps, they are mixed with some of the bad as well. The corps has a lot of good mixed with a lot of bad creating an even ground and a possibility for many different outcomes and feelings. Many people turned out the way I did, they felt the corps was an awful place to be and all they wanted to do was leave.…

    • 1006 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Quentin sees many wrongs done by the people he loves, especially to Caddy. Quentin wants to manipulate others into doing what he believes is right, but no matter how much he tries, the ones he love are too independent to see their errors. When…

    • 1086 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Oedipus Rex, a tragic hero crushed because of his hamartia, was not a perfect man by any means. He had all he wanted, but by the end of the story everything he thought was true turned out to be untrue. Although Oedipus considered fate to be real, he had more confidence in his own knowledge and achievements to control his future. Also, Oedipus’ dependence on himself made his purpose and insight the best way to establish all of his decisions. Oedipus was very short tempered and tended to get anger if he did not agree with someone.…

    • 433 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    He abuses his power and is unfair sometimes even though he considers himself to be honest and reasonable. Ultimately, Danforth’s many accusations led to John Proctor’s death when Proctor didn’t want to ruin his name. This is important to us today because it shows that without proper leadership, things can often go bad very quickly. Judge Danforth does a poor job of keeping the overall situation under control and it all gets out of hand, leading to the deaths of many characters. It can show our country as a whole that we need good leaders, or things could fall into shambles.…

    • 800 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Creon’s tragic flaw is his pride/hubris and he could avoid many problems if he did not have this flaw. His pride caused him to ignore others opinions that may have been helpful or beneficial to him. He ignored the sentry, his son, his wife, and all the citizens of Thebes because they feared him too much to speak up. “Fate has brought all my pride to a cloud of dust.” His pride, or tragic flaw, has ruined his life and the killed the ones he loved, which proves that he has a tragic flaw with a tragic outcome. Many tragic heroes have the same problem with pride that Creon does and it shows how Creon relates to the tragic hero concept.…

    • 1046 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays

Related Topics