Roles Of Monsters In Odysseus

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The definition of what is monstrous is subjective from person to person. By resisting any classification built on systems of power or binaries, monsters are able to provide “new and interconnected methods of perceiving the world” (Cohen 7). Whenever Odysseus is in a vulnerable situation, like when he is out being tossed around on the sea, his limit of knowledge and understanding is exposed. It is usually in these moment when the men would encounter a monster, forcing Odysseus to describe them. When someone provides bestial depictions of another group of people, it reveals more about the observer’s comfort with change and difference. The divide between the “us” and “them” becomes obvious. Theoretically, monsters can warn the observer about upcoming boundaries separating them from a state of higher understanding. Homeric monsters are representations of change and differences, of the social hierarchies and systems of power at the time, and they reflect the subconscious of the observer (in this case, Odysseus), revealing his insecurities. Monsters can represent the foreign and the unknown. Odysseus and his men were wandering the sea for days, traveling through the dark, when they stumble on the cyclops’ island. Odysseus describes Polyphemus’ cave as “a giant’s lair” hidden by enormous trees “looming darkly” (Homer, Odyssey, p. 217, 9.207). These descriptions set the scene so that the reader is preparing for the worst, whoever this “grim loner” is (Homer, Odyssey, p. 217,

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