The Odyssey And Penelopiad: Disguises In The Adaptations (Essay Sample)
English 102: Final Essay Assignment
Length: 1000-1250 words
Note: To submit this assignment, you must upload it to Turnitin.com. A hard copy is NOT required.
Assignment: Write a logically organized, analytical, thesis-driven essay on one of the following topics. Be sure to incorporate specific examples and quotations with close textual analysis to back up your points. Your essay should include an introduction (with a clear thesis statement), at least three body paragraphs and a conclusion.
Grading Criteria: Your essay will be evaluated using the following criteria: analytical insight; persuasiveness; organization and paragraph development; clarity of expression; and grammar, mechanics and style.
NB: You are not required to use any outside sources, and in fact I would prefer that you base your conclusions on your own close reading of the texts I have assigned. However, if you do consult any outside sources, you should be sure to cite them. Please use MLA style—i.e., in-text parenthetical citations and a “Works Cited” page.
Essay Topics (Choose ONE):
1. Write an essay in which you compare/contrast ancient and contemporary representations of Odysseus. Your choices are to compare/contrast Homer's Odysseus with Mason's depictions of him in The Lost Books of the Odyssey, to compare/contrast Homer's Odysseus with the Coen brothers' Ulysses in their film O, Brother Where Art Thou, or you can write an essay that analyzes all three versions of Odysseus. In what ways do these 21st century representations of Odysseus/Ulysses offer us new insights on the ancient epic, the epic hero, and/or mythic storytelling?
2. Write an essay in which you analyze the Coen brothers' adaption of The Odyssey in their 2000 film, O Brother Where Art Thou? Though the Coens claim that the film is only loosely based on The Odyssey, does the film nonetheless make use of the poem's important themes? Drawing upon the themes listed on the Odyssey theme handout, explain how the theme or themes function in the ancient version, then examine how the Coen brothers use or adapt the theme(s) in O Brother Where Art Thou? In what ways might this 21st century version of The Odyssey offer us new insights on the ancient epic, the epic hero, and/or mythic storytelling?
3. Write an essay on how point-of-view affects our understanding of key events and characters in The Odyssey. Focusing your analysis on one, two or three of the following narrators—Penelope in The Penelopiad, the Maids in The Penelopiad, and the Cyclops in Chapter 26 of Mason's Lost Books of The Odyssey—examine how key characters/events come across when seen through the eyes of these different narrators. In what ways do these 21st century treatments of The Odyssey offer us new insights on the ancient epic, the epic hero, and/or mythic storytelling?
4. Write an essay in which you analyze how Atwood's Penelopiad reuses and/or transforms certain images from The Odyssey. To focus your analysis, choose a particular type of imagery that is used in both texts. For example, you might examine the bird imagery (such as eagles, geese, hens and owls), the strand or fabric imagery (such as rope, woven textiles, nooses and webs) or the liquid imagery (particularly the sea, but possibly also tears and blood). In what ways does Atwood's use of these images help convey a different perspective on The Odyssey? (If you have an idea of a different type of imagery you'd like to examine, run it by me before you begin writing).
Format Guidelines: This essay should be neatly prepared using MLA formatting conventions, which means the essay must be typed or word-processed using standard 12-point fonts (such as Times or Times New Roman), double-spaced throughout and have one-inch margins on all sides. You must include a “Works Cited” page as well, listing any sources you used or consulted in writing your essay.
Quotations and Word Count: To support your points, you must incorporate quotations from the course readings. Quotations are included in the word count; however, the quotations should not add up to more than 15% of your total essay. Strive to find that perfect balance between using quotations to bolster and support your points, while not allowing them to speak for you or overpower your voice. Please include a word count at the end of your essay.
Plagiarism Policy: Plagiarism is a serious offense. If any portion of your essay has been plagiarized, you will receive a ‘O' on the assignment and be reported to the Dean. Any sentences or phrases that are not your own must be cited—that means putting quotation marks around them and listing the title of the work and the author's name on your “Works Cited” page. Any ideas that are not your own must also be cited. Even if you put the ideas into your own words, you must still give the author credit for them by putting the author's name and page number in parenthesis and listing the source on your “Works Cited” page.
Please note that Turnitin, a plagiarism-prevention software, will be used to determine whether you have used sources appropriately. Therefore, you must upload a digital copy of your assignment to Turnitin.com. Instructions on creating an account on Turnitin, joining our class, and uploading your work were sent to you by MIO.
The Odyssey and Penelopiad
In Homer's the Odyssey and subsequent adaptations, Odysseus had gone to fight the Trojans, and stayed away from his hometown Ithaca, while his wife Penelope and their son Telemachus had to deal with various suitors try to get her hand in marriage. However, Penelope managed to avoid the suitors hoping that her heroic husband would return, and Odysseus was a cunning man who managed to return to Ithaca even after being captured. Athena the protecting goddess facilitated Odysseus’s plan to go back to Ithaca. Homer's the Odyssey, the adaptations, Margaret Atwood‘s Penelopiad and The lost books of the odyssey highlight Odysseus’ fantastic voyage and encounters where his wife Penelope, recognized his disguises and cunningness in the adaptations.
In Margaret Atwood‘s Penelopiad, Penelope and the maids are the main narrators, and Penelope considered herself a stranger among the people of Ithaca, and she mistrusted those around her (Atwood (35). In reinterpreting the Odyssey through the words of Penelope, Odysseus is not so much of a hero like in Homer’s the Odyssey, while the reputation of him being a good lover was exaggerated. For instance, she stated that Odysseus and his men were unable to fight well as they got drunk and even Odysseus had fought with a one-eyed Cyclops or one-eyed tavern keeper, “Odysseus was the guest of a goddess on an enchanted isle, said some; she’d turned his men into pigs – not a hard job” (Atwood 45).
To Penelope, Odysseus is less cunning than he believed, as she recognized him when he returned home, but in the original poem, Odysseus could disguise himself when he made his return to Ithaca including taking the identity of a beggar. “There’s a detail they make much of in the songs. I ordered the maids to wash the feet of Odysseus-the-mendicant” (Atwood 70). This indicates that Odysseus was not as shrewd as he thought of himself as Penelope already knew that the beggar was really Odysseus craftiness. Furthermore, by proposing that all the suitors focus on archery, she knew that her husband would win because of his archery tricks.
Rather than focus too much on a heroic story, the narrators in Penelopiad use different voices, unlike Homer’s epic, where the epic, mostly, addresses the hero’s journey on his way back home, while his wife waited for him impatiently. As such, Penelope questioned the heroic history unlike in the classic tale where Odysseus is celebrated for his heroism, and Penelope could pretend when around other people including her husband so that they would not uncover what she knew and doubted about Odysseus’s story. “Odysseus spent his first hours in the palace snooping around and being abused by the Suitors, who jeered and threw...
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