Writing a good Odysseus essay doesn’t have to be an uphill task as many students suppose. Nonetheless, that does not mean that it is a walk in the park. Often most students fail right off the bat by making some mistakes which are avoidable.
The biggest mistake that can result in a terrible essay occurs when a student fails to fully understand the storyline before beginning to work on the essay. Since The Odyssey is considered to be relatively difficult to read even with a good translation, it means that anyone can easily fail to capture what was in the poet’s mind when writing the poem.
It is imperative that you understand the following characteristics of the poem since they will help you in creating creative, unique and coherent essays:
- The plot/ storyline
- Character traits of all the characters and the roles they play in the poem
- Character analysis and how they affect the plot development
- The major themes in the poem
Getting the Storyline Right
Homer’s poem The Odyssey, is one of the greatest epic hero Greek poems of all times. It is considered one of Homer’s best works as documented in his biography. The plot of the poem is based on the aftermath of a war in Troy, the Trojan War. A story is then developed based on the plot focusing on Odysseus’s escapades as he travels from Troy to his home in Ithaka. Other primary characters used to develop the storyline include Athena and Penelope, his faithful wife. Throughout the storyline, the poet invokes the thoughts of the reader to judge whether Odysseus is not a hero because of some mistakes he makes.
The journey takes more than twenty years, and throughout the journey, there are many challenges faced until finally, Odysseus arrives home. For example, in one scene on the Island of Lotus Eaters, Odysseus’ men are given some magical fruits which cause them to lose direction and become unfaithful to their mission.
Back home, his faithful wife Penelope misses him because of his prolonged absence. While she holds to the fact that his husband, Odysseus is alive, most people discourage him. The situation is so bad such that there are over one hundred suitors from Ithaka who are willing to marry her. Nonetheless, she remains firm to her decision and chooses not to be unfaithful to her husband, which would anger the gods.
So What Will You Choose As the Title of Your Essay?
Since most essay titles are open-ended in most poems, as a student, you have a free will of coming up with a title that you find interesting and can create relevant content. Some of the options you can consider as the main essay topic or subtitles are:
Write a character analysis of one or more characters that you find interesting and worth discussing the poem. It is advisable to select one of the main characters who play a significant role in plot development. It can either be Odysseus himself, Penelope or Athena. If you choose to discuss a character/characters, you should aim to address how they contribute to the plot development. For instance, consider how Odysseus’s cleverness is depicted in the poem and its effects on the storyline. On the same note, you can write about the role of gods in the Odysseus and whether they were unfaithful or not.
Base your essay on one or several themes that are prominent in the poem. For instance, you can opt to write on betrayal, vengeance, determination, hospitality or loyalty and unfaithful people. If you are not sure whether you will manage to reach the target word count, you can focus on a determination as a theme, since it is the overriding theme in the poem.
Another interesting approach to the essay is to relate the poem to the contemporary world. The approach can be award-winning considering that the original poem was written back in 700BC. Wouldn’t a comparison of the way of life on the Island more than 2000 years ago with the modern era be interesting? You can spice it up by relating the experiences to yourself, or situations that you have encountered first hand.
Additional Tips and Ideas That Will Make Your Essay Catch the Readers’ Attention
To raise the quality of your essay a notch higher, you can think about the following:
Consider the struggles that Odysseus faced as a symbolic representation of the struggles that we as human beings face as we strive to achieve our goals in life. Although there are a lot of supernatural powers such as the roles gods play in the storyline, the experiences faced by the characters are less the same as those faced by ordinary human beings. Some of the adventures on the island of Cyclops could be compared to our own experience to give the essay a unique twist.
- Have you ever taken any risks in a desperate attempt to get what you want or achieve a specific objective?
- Is there something or someone that you are willing to give your life for their sake?
- Do you ever face any obstacles in your life? How do you deal when such issues arise?
- How do the societies in the ancient Greek relate to those in the modern era? Are there gods in the contemporary world?
Lastly, for those who have an in-depth understanding of the poem, you can base your essay on ironies cited in the essay. However, if you choose to focus your essay on the author’s writing style, you have to be cautious. The last thing any instructor wants is an essay which has been based on a wrong textual interpretation.
A classic example of the instance mentioned above is to compare the reception Odysseus was given by the King and Queen, who were total strangers as compared to that which he received upon his arrival to Ithaka, his homeland. Similarly, you can present an argument as to whether you think finally Odysseus is not a hero because of one or two reasons from the poem.
Evidently, there are many approaches that one can take when writing the essay to make it captivating, yet remaining relevant to the context of the poem. To make coherent arguments, you should ensure that you have sufficient textual evidence from the poem with proper citations.