Analysis of The Archetypal Villain in The Odyssey

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Introduction

Thesis: The archetypal villain is crucial for the story to continue because the villain guides the hero to the next part of their story, the villain reveals the hero’s weaknesses and faults, and without the villain, the hero wouldn’t be a hero.

The Archetypal Villain

Any form of literature found in today’s society contains these 5 main archetypes: the hero, the villain/obstacle, the companion, the mentor, and the desire. Each of these archetypes play a fundamental role in the telling of the story. The archetypal villain is the obstacle that the hero must overcome to reach their desire. The villain plays a crucial role throughout literature, and this can be seen throughout Homer’s The Odyssey and Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. Without the villain, the story cannot continue. The archetypal villain is crucial for the story to continue because the villain guides the hero to the next part of their story, the villain reveals the hero’s weaknesses and faults, and without the villain, the hero wouldn’t be a hero.

The villain is important because they guide the hero to the next part of their journey. This can be shown in The Odyssey. Circe was a villain in the path of Odysseus, the hero. Circe was a beautiful sea witch who lived on the island of Aeaea, and she turned men into animals. When Odysseus’s crew arrived, they were no exception, and they were all turned into swine. Odysseus went looking for them, and Hermes gave an herb called molly to Odysseus so that Circe’s enchantments wouldn’t affect him. He was able to withstand Circe’s enchantments, ordered her to change his men back into humans, and they stayed with Circe for one year before they decided to head out again. “[Circe] used her magical knowledge for them. She found out what they must do next in order to reach home safely.” This proves that the villain can evolve into a mentor for the hero and can guide the hero to the next part of their journey. In this example, without Circe, Odysseus wouldn’t know what to do in order to get home safely. He would be stuck, and the story would not move forward any longer. The villain contributes to the story in this way, but continues to contribute to the story by revealing the hero’s weaknesses.

The villain also contributes to the story by showing the audience the hero’s flaws and imperfections. It is the hero’s flaws that make him relatable and a hero for overcoming his challenges. For example, in The Odyssey, Odysseus must cross the part of the sea where the Sirens live. He is the only one of his crew members that doesn’t put wax in their ears to save their lives. While this may seem heroic, it only shows Odysseus’s flaw of being arrogant and prideful of himself. The crossing with the Sirens revealed to the audience his belief of being too great for the Siren Song. In this example, Odysseus is made to be a relatable being, which makes him all the more heroic for overcoming what he overcame. Without this, the hero would be thought of as a god, and this wouldn’t make the feats he overcame seem like anything. When shown the flaws and how the hero overcame them, this gives hope to the audience that they too can triumph over their faults, and this makes the hero all the more heroic for accomplishing what they did. The villain contributes to the story in this way, but the villain also contributes to the story in another important way.

Without the villain, the hero wouldn’t have had the chance to prove himself to be a hero. For example, in Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, the story of Theseus is told. Theseus wasn’t born a hero. He overcame a great difficulty to be known as a hero. Theseus defeated the Minotaur, a great beast to whom boys and girls were to be sacrificed to on a regular basis. He volunteered to be one of the sacrifices, and all of the boys and girls headed for the maze where the Minotaur stayed. When Theseus reached the maze, he boldly went looking for the Minotaur and defeated it. Never again did the people of Athens worry about the Minotaur, and Theseus became King of Athens. In this example, without the Minotaur, Theseus would have never been given the chance to prove himself a true hero. This in turn would lead to no story of Theseus because there wouldn’t be a hero for the story to be centered around. This evidence shows why it is so important for the archetypal villain to be present in the story.

The archetypal villain contributes to the story because it can act as a mentor to guide the hero for a portion of the story, the villain uncovers the hero’s flaws, and without the villain, the hero wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to become the hero. This proves the importance of the presence of a villain in a story. However, this sort of villain doesn’t just exist in literature, but also in real life. The story of Malala Yousafzai is a great example of this because without the Taliban, there would be no reason for Malala to have been the hero she is. We would have never known a girl named Malala existed in Afghanistan. This is the case with Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and many others as well. Perhaps the villains and heroes in stories are just models of past or future villains and heroes in reality. Here is something else to think about. In the eyes of humanity, the villain is looked upon as the ruin of stories, when perhaps it should be looked at as the reason stories continue to be told.

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