Characterization in Oedipus the King and Homer's Odyssey

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Characterization in Oedipus the King and Homer's Odyssey The characters in a novel or play 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, which shall be the focus of this essay. Both Oedipus, in Sophocles' King Oedipus and Odysseus, in The Odyssey of Homer, oftenare spoken of by others, 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 favorable or unfavorable descriptions by others, but their own speech, however calculated or controlled, 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 and King Oedipus, the speech of a characterallows us to see the various shades of grey, thus portraying the character more fairly. One might see Oedipus and Odysseus as being in some ways quite similar, but their speech and the characteristics revealed therein is what sets them apart. Oedipus and Odysseus were both powerful men, each lording over their own small kingdoms. It would seem they should share certain characteristics and one would not be incorrect to say they did. Both showed themselves to be respectful of their duties toward their people. Oedipus, when faced with the people s petition (specifically, the Priest, act... ... middle of paper ... ...portray them as such, but their speech remains one of the strongest methods of characterization. Through speech, the characters became multi-dimensional, and the evolution of the character was apparent, as was the case with the desperation and demise of Oedipus. Certainly, the words of Oedipus and Odysseus shaped the image a reader might construct of either one, even if this image was not what Sophocles or Homer had intended. Whatever this image may be, the speech of the principal characters of King Oedipus and The Odyssey proved both Oedipus and Odysseus tobe complete, multi-faceted characters, neither good or evil, black or white. Works Cited: Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Vintage Books, 1962. Sophocles. “Oedipus the King.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 6th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002.

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