Main Ideas In Story Of Odysseus

“The need for control always comes from someone that has lost it,” Shannon L. Alder, author. The hunger for pride, status, and control is poison to a person.

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Terrible events, people, and personal downfall originate from this poison, and our own actions and emotion are affected by it. We always hide our faults from the eyes of others to protect our pride and maintain control, and even try to convince ourselves that we are perfect. The Odyssey by Homer is an epic poem that describes our need for recognition and power, and how we treat people through the story of Odysseus.

Because Odysseus changes from a prideful, controlling man to a man who still has pride but also respect for others, we can see that we attempt to protect our pride and authority through trying to control the situation, which causes us to lose sight of important goals, but by loosening our grip and acknowledging and respecting those who are superior to us, we can accept our faults and maintain the important things in life.

Because Odysseus is facing his fears of losing control of his life and dying a meaningless death in the ocean after leaving Calypso’s island, we see a change from a man with too much pride and a sense of control, to someone who is weak in the face of his greatest fear, which shows us that we protect our pride and authority through trying to control the situation, but we have to let go of some control and face our fears and transgressions, so that we can reach a less arrogant and more open mind. As Odysseus approaches his Abyss, “Odysseus’ knees shook and his spirit failed. In anguish he communed with his great heart: ‘Poor wretch that I am, what will become of me after all?’” (70)

In the quote when the author describes the ‘great hearted’ Odysseus’ knees shaking, and his spirit failing, his flaws are open to us and himself. In that description, it seems as though Odysseus is unaware of how this will play out, which is obvious when the quote says “Poor wretch that I am, what will become of me after all?” because he is admitting to not being able to control his future and how he will be viewed, and that is something he cannot bear, the unknown. After his spirit had already failed, “As he spoke, a mountainous wave, advancing with awesome speed, crashed down upon him from above and whirled his raft around. The rudder was torn from his hands, and he himself was tossed off the raft…” (71) The emphasis on the ‘awesome speed’ and mountainous size of the wave is used to make Odysseus look insignificant and vulnerable, and when the wave ‘whirled his raft around’ we were able to feel the lack of control Odysseus felt.

His most important moment of fear is, “The rudder was torn from his hands…” because a rudder is what steers or controls a boat, and when one is torn from his hands, it symbolizes him losing control over his own life, he can no longer steer it and that is what Odysseus must face and come to terms with. “Then he wound the veil round his waist, and with his arms outstretched plunged head long into the sea and boldly struck out.” (72) At first, Odysseus’s prideful and arrogant self dismisses her help even when he is in great peril, but once his plan of heading back to his raft fails Odysseus realizes Ino is his only hope for succeeding, “Then he wound the veil round his waist…” showing that he looked past his pride in order to succeed. “…with his arms outstretched plunged head long into the sea and boldly struck out.” This part of the quote shows an Odysseus with renewed energy entering the waters that had taken his control away moments before with more confidence, and he is basically winning back control from the waves by lending some control of his life to Ino and her veil. Odysseus show us through his change here of noticing the need to let some control go and facing his transgressions, that we protect our pride and authority through trying to control the situation, but we have to let go of some control and face our fears, so that we can reach a less arrogant and more open mind, and eventually succeed.

Because Odysseus shows an understanding for the reasons why the Suitors paid for their transgressions while talking to Eurycleia, we see the complete change from an overly prideful and controlling man, to a man whom still has pride but knows how to let go of control and respect others to reach his goals, which shows the solution to our theme that even though we protect our pride and authority through attempting to control of the situation, we can keep sight of our goals and success by letting go of some control, understanding the power of those who are greater than you, and respecting your faults. Whilst escaping from the Cyclops, “…tell them eye was put out by Odysseus, sacker of cities…” (123) Odysseus tells off the Cyclops, even though his crew mate discouraged it and he knew it was not the best choice. This Odysseus brags about hurting and out smarting the Cyclops, “…Tell them your eye was put out by Odysseus…” Now at the time of the atonement, Odysseus was a much different character. “Restrain yourself old woman, and gloat in silence. I’ll have no cries of triumph here. It is an impious thing to exult over the slain.” (298)

This is the man who boasted all those who he had fallen to his sword and he had injured, now a man who tells others to ‘gloat in silence’. Silent is something he was never before about how great he was, and saying, “I’ll have no cries of triumph here, ” is a symbol of how far he has come, because the Suitors were trash that he took out in order to restore his place, yet he still isn’t celebrating their demise. By using the word impious, Odysseus also makes the point of how it’s disrespectful to the gods to gloat over death, something the old Odysseus wouldn’t have cared about. Odysseus shows a new understanding of the consequences of transgressions and disrespect, “These men fell victims to the will of the gods and their own infamy. They paid respect to no one on Earth who came near them- good or bad. And now their transgressions have brought them to this ignominious death.” (298)

In this quote Odysseus also gives strength and respect to the gods, by saying, “These men fell victim to the will of the gods…” He’s saying that it wasn’t him that was able to take the Suitors, it was the gods. Odysseus also describes the Suitor’s maltreatment of people, no matter who they were, showing an understanding of one of their greatest transgressions, similar to his own. At, “And now their transgressions have brought them to this ignominious death,” Odysseus is saying that their transgressions, specifically not respecting their fellow man, is what brought them a disgraceful and pitiful death. Odysseus’ in depth views on the Suitor’s downfall, the gods, and their faults is a show of how he understands the consequences of those who are too insolent and disrespectful, which is a complete change from the overly conceited and controlling Odysseus to the more open minded and respectful man whom knows his goals, showing us that even though we attempt to protect our pride and authority through controlling our lives and those around us, we can keep sight of our goals and succeed by letting go of some control, understanding the power of those who are greater than you, and accepting your faults.

The change Odysseus undergoes is from the arrogant, controlling, and disrespectful man to a man who respects those of a higher power, and is still prideful but less boastful, showing how protecting ourselves and pride from our faults through control does not benefit you, but releasing some control and accepting your faults can save you from losing sight of what is important. Our world is filled with distractions, most important is self appearance. Success and greatness is shown through how we present ourselves, and what we have accomplished. The world of social media allows us to bandage out faults and fears with a profile picture and a witty caption, substance is not needed to look great. We boast of the accomplishments we have made, and try to push each other down to parade a campaign of perfection. Odysseus’s journey and change brings about a lesson, in which your transgressions and pride can get the best of you, and controlling your actions and those around you leads to a loss of sight, the sight of the things you hold dear. We must tear apart this allusion of perfection, because it poisons our souls and our views, poisons the water we drink, making us forget the faults that we must remember in order to understand that control cannot make you look better, it only drives away the fear for a little while, but if you embrace your faults, fear will never envelope you again and you can succeed.

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