Odysseus and Prospero

Apparently the only comparison of Odysseus and Prospero in existence... A comparative analysis of the main characters from the Odyssey and The Tempest.

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Odysseus and Prospero

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Apparently the only comparison of Odysseus and Prospero in existence... A comparative analysis of the main characters from the Odyssey and The Tempest.
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Slide Content
  1. Odysseus and Prospero: Same Man, New Name?

    Slide 1 - Odysseus and Prospero: Same Man, New Name?

    • By Elizabeth Mills
  2. Why Odyssey and The Tempest?

    Slide 2 - Why Odyssey and The Tempest?

    • “The story of castaways on a deserted island is such a familiar and popular narrative design that we are more apt to think of it in terms of its ‘modern’ manifestations… than to trace its literary ancestry back to the Odyssey” (Young 146).
  3. Why Odyssey and The Tempest?

    Slide 3 - Why Odyssey and The Tempest?

    • “Both the Odyssey and The Tempest draw on Golden Age, utopian themes to describe the landscape of the New World” (Dougherty 64).
  4. How Alike Are Odysseus and Prospero?

    Slide 4 - How Alike Are Odysseus and Prospero?

    • The circumstances of Odysseus and Prospero are very much alike at first glance, but a closer examination of the characters, their actions, and the events they play a part of shows a better comparison with other characters and roles.
  5. Similarities

    Slide 5 - Similarities

    • Both Odysseus and Prospero are rulers who have been taken away from their lands
    • An unfortunate seafaring incident stranded them far from home
    • Both characters are eager to return home from their adventures
    • “The queenly nymph sought out the great Odysseus… and found him there on the headland, sitting, still, weeping… the tears he wept for his foiled journey home” (Homer 157).
  6. Similarities

    Slide 6 - Similarities

    • Both characters have children who’ve grown up in the intervening time
    • Both Odysseus and Prospero use cunning to return home and get justice for the wrongs done them
    • Like Odysseus, Prospero “holds sway over everyone he encounters, using his art to captivate or otherwise manipulate” (Edmundson 261)
  7. Wait a Moment…

    Slide 7 - Wait a Moment…

    • Most of the similarities between Odysseus and Prospero are only surface level.
    • Looking deeper into the actions of the characters and their motivations makes them seem more different than similar.
    • Looking at the circumstances that surround what happens to the characters separates them further.
  8. Differences in…

    Slide 8 - Differences in…

    • Odysseus’ Shipwreck(s)
    • Odysseus gets stranded or shipwrecked multiple times in the 20 years that he’s gone.
    • The solo shipwrecks were onto friendly lands
    • All the shipwrecks are caused by angry gods
    • He actually tries to get off the islands!
    • Prospero’s Shipwreck
    • He didn’t actually end up on the island because of a shipwreck
    • Had a ton of provisions when he got stranded
    • Took over the place where he landed
    • Never tried to actually leave
    • Causes the only actual shipwreck himself with magic
  9. Differences in…

    Slide 9 - Differences in…

    • Odysseus’ Adventures
    • Things happen to Odysseus
    • Odysseus has a number of trials that he undergoes
    • Prospero’s Adventures
    • Prospero makes things happen to other people
    • Prospero makes others undergo trials
    • Prospero actually learns a lesson
    • “Once back in Ithaca, Odysseus, tacking the real world and badly outnumbered by his enemies, resorts to whatever tactics of survival he can muster” (Frank 180)
    • Prospero was “forced to come to terms with shifting power structures in ways that affected profound changes” (Edmundson 259)
  10. Differences in…

    Slide 10 - Differences in…

    • Odysseus’ Homecoming
    • Odysseus has to sneak back home without the approval of the people there
    • Odysseus’ return cursed the people who helped him
    • He reverts to his old ways as soon as he can
    • Prospero’s Homecoming
    • Prospero plotted his return
    • The “people” who helped him came out of it pretty happy
    • Prospero becomes a better person after all his struggles
    • “The real conclusion to Prospero’s journey… comes in his epilogue… for the first time Prospero is acknowledging his own need for forgiveness” (Edmundson 263)
  11. But Who Could They Be?

    Slide 11 - But Who Could They Be?

    • Odysseus as Prospero’s Victims
    • Odysseus’ shipwreck(s) were contrived by the gods to punish him for his ‘crimes’ against them
    • Prospero as Circe (or Poseidon)
    • Prospero causes the tempest that brings everyone to his island
    • “Odysseus’ encounter with Nausicaa in Book 6, once he washes ashore on her father’s island… is echoed by Ferdinand’s arrival and courtship of Miranda” (Dougherty 84)
    • “From the beginning, it appears that Prospero will choose the way of unmitigated power… he will use his supernatural powers to bring his enemies under his authority” (Edmundson 260)
    • “Circe begins as a malevolent witch, but once Odysseus has subdued her, she becomes his helper and shows no sign of her sinister past” (Bowra 57)
  12. Works Cited

    Slide 12 - Works Cited

    • Bowra, C. M. "The Odyssey: Its Shape and Character." Homer's the Odyssey. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1988. 49-68. Print.
    • Dougherty, Carol, and Ebrary, Inc. The Raft of Odysseus the Ethnographic Imagination of Homer's Odyssey. Oxford [England] ; New York: Oxford UP, 2001. Print.
    • Edmondson, Todd. "Prospero's Exile And The Tempest Of The English Reformation." Religion And The Arts 14.3 (2010): 252-266.MLA International Bibliography. Web. 8 Dec. 2014
    • Frank, Bernhard. "Homer's ODYSSEY." Explicator 58.4 (2000): 179. Academic Search Complete. Web. 6 Dec. 2014.
    • Homer, Robert Fagles, and Bernard Knox. The Odyssey. New York: Viking, 1996. Penguin Group, 2002. Web.
    • Young, David. "Rough Magic: The Tempest." The Heart's Forest; a Study of Shakespeare's Pastoral Plays. New Haven: Yale UP, 1972. 146-91. Print.