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Archetypes and The Odyssey

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Kenneth McKee

on 9 February 2015

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Transcript of Archetypes and The Odyssey

RL.9-10.3: Analyze how complex characters develop over the course of the text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
* A character who aids or trains the hero

* Usually a wise old man or woman

* Represents the wiser and more godlike qualities within us.
The Mentor
The villain
* Usually represents the hero's internal conflicts

* Inhabitants of the underworld are "dead" or "punished" metaphorically

* The hero grows stronger upon his or her return
The Task
Most epics feature an...
* superhuman qualities

* suffers trials to achieve a goal

* on a quest of something of great value

* has a tragic flaw

* unusual/prestigious origin
The Underworld
Images, characters, and symbols that reappear in storytelling throughout different times and cultures. They generally represent universal aspects of human experience.
Learning Targets:
I can recognize archetypes in epic poetry and other storytelling.
I can explain the purpose of each archetype in developing the plot and theme of the literature.
What evidence exists in the following quote that suggests Odysseus is an epic hero?

"I am Laertes' son, Odysseus.
Men hold me
formidable for guile (craftiness) in peace and war:
this fame has gone abroad to the sky's rim."
Pressed by the suitors, Penelope says she will marry the man who can string Odysseus's bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axhandle sockets.
"He picked one ready arrow from his table
where it lay bare: the rest were waiting still
in the quiver for [his] turn to come.
He nocked it, let it rest across the handgrip,
and drew the string and grooved butt of the arrow,
aiming from where he sat upon the stool.
Now flashed
arrow from twanging bow clean as a whistle
through every socket ring, and grazed not one,
to thud with heavy brazen head beyond."
Epic Hero
How do we see these qualities in a hero like Harry Potter?
...or Luke Skywalker
...Or Simba in "The Lion King"?
When Odysseus returns to his home, he disguises himself. Later he is visited by Athena.

"From the air she walked, taking the form of a tall woman, handsome and clever at her craft...There she said to him: Son of Laertes and the gods of old, Odysseus, dissemble (disguise yourself) to your son no longer now. The time has come: tell him how you together will bring doom on the suitors in the town. I shall not be far distant, for I myself desire battle."

What evidence suggests that Athena is a mentor to Odysseus?
* Person guilty/capable of crime or wickedness

* Represents problems humans want to eliminate

* Opponent with whom the hero must struggle

* A negative force who breaks laws of nature or society
How is Cinderella's fairy godmother a mentor archetype?
How does Haymitch exemplify the mentor archetype in the following scene?
One popular archetype, The Journey, is often used to symbolize the trials we all encounter in life.
The word "odyssey" means journey.

How does the Joker break rules?
What problems might he represent?
How do other villains exhibit these qualities?
The Hero must perform some nearly superhuman deed to "win" love, position, his/her kingdom, or the safety of others.
How do these quotes illustrate underworld imagery?

“The eye of the sun can never/flash his rays through the dark and bring them light” (Book 11, lines 17-18)

“Three times I rushed toward her (Odysseus’ mother), desperate to hold her/three times she fluttered through my fingers, sifting away/like a shadow, dissolving like a dream” (lines 235-237)

“By god, I’d rather slave on earth for another man—some dirt-poor tenant farmer who scrapes to keep alive—than rule down here over all the breathless dead” (Achilles, lines 556-558)
What are stories, films, or myths where characters travel through an underworld?
Wesley and Buttercup ("The Princess Bride") fall in love after their "underworld" experience in The Fire Swamp.
What other task archetypes have you learned about from literature, film, and other media?
Explain what you know about each archetype and its purpose in epic storytelling.

1. The Journey

2. The Epic Hero

3. The Mentor

4. The Villain

5. The Underworld

6. The Task

"O hear me lord, blue girdler of the islands, if I am thine indeed, and thou art father: Grant that Odysseus, raider of cities, never see his home: Laertes' son, I mean, who kept his hall on Ithaca. Should destiny intend that he shall see his roof again among his family in his father land, far be that day, and dark the years between. Let him lose all companions, and return under strange sail to bitter days at home."
The below quote was when Polyphemus, Poseidon's son, asks Poseidon to curse Odysseus.

Why might Poseidon be considered the villain of "The Odyssey"?
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