Odysseus Character Analysis

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The infamous scene in Homer’s Odyssey in which Odysseus proudly boasts his name to the Cyclops is a didactic moment, preaching about the dangers of pride. At times, pride can become an impetus toward positivity, but in many cases, such as Odysseus’, an exorbitant amount can have the opposite effect. This trait is explored in numerous works of literature, including Lord of the Flies, “Harrison Bergeron”, and Anthem. It manifests itself in the leaders of these stories in distinctly different ways, yet in each character, his pride is a defining factor in the outcome of his life. Thus, individuals who are intrinsically inclined to be leaders lack the humility to show respect for those superior and inferior to them on the social hierarchy, as they hold a fixed belief that the ultimate beings worthy of reverence are themselves.

In Lord of the Flies, Jack struggles to surrender to the orders of Ralph, the elected chief, and ridicules the other boys who do not possess his natural prowess for commanding the group. For example, when Ralph reprimands the hunters for not tending to the signal fire and ignoring their responsibilities, Jack angrily replies, “‘and you shut up! Who are you anyway? Sitting there telling people what to do. You can’t hunt, you can’t sing’” (Golding 123). Jack does not understand why Ralph was chosen over himself. Having always maintained the top position of the choirboys, he cannot accept ceding power to Ralph. Jack rationalizes his superiority over Ralph as being the boy who possesses singing and hunting abilities and a previous leadership role, therefore the rightful chief. Because Jack is obsessed with the thought that he deserves to rule, it never occurs to him that Ralph’s orders are logical, simple, and civ...

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...self, and he regards his individuality as the single lord he must venerate. This conviction that he is the one true owner of his soul shows how highly he holds himself; the respect and protectiveness he fosters for his own being is far above that of all other men.

People with a natural instinct toward leadership value themselves over all others regardless of social position. Their pride is a pair of glasses with the wrong prescription; their view on equality becomes skewed and blurred. Nevertheless, this same pride can be the one instrumental factor that leads humanity out of a collective darkness, as possessing an ego is essential to being an individual. As observed in the three works of literature, pride is a universal theme interwoven across a multitude of diverse characters. What each of these characters do with this double edged trait, however, defines them.
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