Comparing the Hero in Sophocles' Oedipus the King, Homer's Odyssey, and Tan's Joy Luck Club
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Heros in Sophocles' Oedipus the King, Homer's Odyssey, and Tan's Joy Luck Club
In world literature, there are two types of archetypal protagonists, the mythic hero and the tragic hero. Mythic heroes, like Homer's Odysseus, represent the combination of superhuman virtues and human imperfections. These traits create a supernatural adventure with a realistic character. The mythic hero is favored by divine powers and eventually achieves a certain goal or completes a certain journey. On the other hand, there is the tragic hero, like Sophocles' Oedipus. The unfortunate tragic hero has a penchant for attempting to escape a doomed fate. The tragic hero lives under the shadow that the gods place. Literature throughout the…show more content…
Throughout his journey, it is clear that he embodies the mythic hero archetype. The proof lies in the fact that the final destination, Ithaka, clearly overshadows his place of departure, war-torn Troy. In the following excerpt, Odysseus expresses gratitude and joy to King Alkínoös and Queen Arêtê, while embarking on his journey home.
"O king and admiration of your people, [...]
my blessings on you all! This hour brings
fulfillment to the longing of my heart:
a ship for home, and gifts the gods of heaven
make so precious and so bountiful.
After this voyage
god grant I find my own wife in my hall
with everyone I love best, safe and sound!" (Homer 361)
Additionally, the mere fact that the gods and the other characters are in favor of Odysseus' return home makes him a mythic hero. The mood of the story is one of victory, in which the best is yet to come. Odysseus revels in the feeling of eventual success because the other characters in the story are all on his side. Athena and some other gods and goddesses intervene into Odysseus' journey, confirming the happy ending from the very first page. Athena introduces the story herself, by saying: "But my own heart is broken for Odysseus, / the master mind of war, so long a castaway / ... / But such desire is in him / merely to see the hearthsmoke leaping upward / from his own island, that he longs to die" (Homer 220). Odysseus' success is also verified