The Art of Storytelling in The Odyssey

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The Odyssey is a classic example of great literature, read and enjoyed both under the bright lights of the classroom and the cozy warmth of the home—this idea is well-known. Yet, there exists a question as to how Homer's “story of a man never at a loss” has managed to maintain the attention of the world to this day. C.S Lewis hints at the answer in his book, The Horse and His Boy: “For in Calormen, story-telling (whether the stories are true or made up) is a thing you're taught, just as English boys and girls are taught essay-writing. The difference is that people want to hear the stories, whereas I never heard of anyone who wanted to read the essays.” Lewis is pointing out the true beauty and art of story-telling; this art form makes its audience want to endure each word. The Odyssey lives on today as a triumph of story-telling because its author is what all authors strive to be: a story-telling master. Said story-telling mastery is demonstrated in The Odyssey as it adheres to the popular imagination's demand for things such as conflict, good versus evil, romance, and adventure.

Central to good story-telling and manifest throughout The Odyssey is conflict. Odysseus, whose name means trouble or struggle, fights to return home one last time. Penelope struggles to hold off her suitors and maintain her love for Odysseus with dignity. Telemachos strives to become a man, noble and true. Homer's characters face trials and temptations that make or break them, very much like real life. Numerous forms of conflict capture the audience's attention as they appear in largely true form, relatable and resonant. Tension, fear, suspense. Will he/she overcome the sin he/she is facing? Will God listen and answer his/her plea for help? Readers cann...

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...nknown lands. Homer introduces the setting changes by giving details the audience can imagine. He uses vivid and common language to enable the audience to picture each situation. The adventure within The Odyssey sparks imagination that excitingly bridges human experiences in reality (feasts, death, travel, etc.) with the experiences of the characters in the book—a key aspect of good story-telling.

Many characteristics of good story-telling manifest themselves within The Odyssey and point out how Homer is a master story-teller. It exists as a classic piece of literature for good reason. It's the epitome of what the popular imagination demands. Conflict, good versus evil, romance, and adventure are four of many aspects that demonstrate how The Odyssey has managed to keep the world's attention throughout the centuries. If you give it a chance, it will pull you in!

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