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Comparing and Contrasting Homer's Odysseus and Tennyson's Ulysses

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Comparing Homer's Odysseus and Tennyson's Ulysses

Homer's Odyssey depicts the life of a middle-aged, while Tennyson's "Ulysses" describes Ulysses as an old man. The character's role in his son's life shifts. With maturity, Telemachus does not require as much guidance from his father. However, time does not alter the caring fellowship the man has with his crew, nor the willpower that he possesses in achieving his goals.

While Odysseus and his son are united and face the world together, Ulysses sees himself and his son as two different people living separate lives. When he returns, Odysseus has a close, personal relationship with his son; he becomes Telemachus' mentor. Odysseus realizes Telemachus' resemblance to himself - both are noble men of action who value justice. Together, they devise a plan to avenge the arrogant suitors who have abused their household for the past three years. Finally, "he [Odysseus] found the whole company lying in heaps in the blood and dust..." (Homer, 22.383). Father and son are victorious together. Conversely, as Ulysses ages, he and his son are disunited. Ulysses is confident that he has trained his son to be a benevolent ruler. He praises Telemachus's patience, gentleness, and prudence - all outstanding qualities that he is lacking. Ulysses acknowledges that he and his son are opposite people. He is adventurous, while Telemachus is sedate. "He works his work, I mine" (Tennyson, Line 43) suggests acceptance of a destiny; the father and son must lead separate lives because of their differences. Despite changing roles the man plays in Telemachus' life, he successfully raises his son to become a respectable leader.

Although the father-son relationship differs, Ody...

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...old age or barriers, he will always strive to fulfill his goals. The experiences of Odysseus and Ulysses are tributes to the power of the human spirit; one can achieve much if they are determined.

Odysseus and Ulysses have differences, but also similarities. The man's role in his son's life shifts once Telemachus matures. However, Odysseus and Ulysses portray similar characteristics - their love for their crew and their determination in achieving goals. The man is a born leader; he shows leadership in raising his son, caring for his crew, and ultimately, in taking charge of his life. The poets acclaim men who have direction in life to strive and attain goals.

Works Cited

Homer. Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Vintage, 1961.

Tennyson, Alfred. "Ulysses." The Norton Introduction to Literature. Eds. Jerome Beaty and J. Paul Hunter. 7th ed.
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