Setting as an Ideological and Plot Element in Homer’s Odyssey

April 13, 2021 by Essay Writer

Setting is Significant

One of the most important parts of a story is the setting. Setting includes not only place but period as well. In Homer’s short story, The Odyssey, the surroundings change frequently; however, the story takes place in Ancient Greece. This is vital to every aspect of the story because, if it were changed to any other time such as modern-day America, the mythological feature would be erased, the way of life for the characters would be changed, and the nature of the story would be different.

The short story is based on supernatural things such as one-eyed monsters, Greek gods, and hypnotic fruit. Odysseus, a legendary Greek hero, is known for his cunning wit and his brave actions when faced with danger. If the setting of the story were in modern-day America, the story’s unique mythological origin would be virtually eliminated, causing none of Odysseus’s challenges to be even remotely the same. He would not have defeated the Cyclopes Polyphemus, nor weathered a storm sent by Zeus. Instead, he would be battling modern-day problems like traffic and paying taxes. Without the setting of Ancient Greece, the mythology component would be erased, resulting in the whole plot needing to be altered to fit the new setting, which would result in a new story.

The human characters in the story survive by pillaging towns, stealing from others and killing those who stand in their way. If the story were set in current-day America, none of these things would be possible to do without serious repercussions. Odysseus’s men only have to worry about not being killed, whereas if they were in modern times they would have to concern themselves with abiding by laws to prevent incarceration. It would be very hard for them to do anything they do in the short story because of recent discoveries such as fingerprinting, security cameras, etc. The way of life for the characters would have to be changed to follow the normal standards of society.

What makes the short story unique is the strong connection to Ancient Greece. Although it is not the only part that provides an intriguing concept to the story, it is considered an essential piece. Without the heavily referenced period of Ancient Greece, the nature of the story would no longer have a sort of historical feel to it. A modern story does not evoke curiosity about the past or provide a mythological essence; modern stories simply relay current events in most cases. If the setting were moved to modern-day America, the plot would have to be modified from an early legend that induces wonder to a modern tale, which would create an entirely different atmosphere for the reader.

Ultimately, The Odyssey would be altered into a completely new story if the setting was changed. Anything from mythological creatures to simply the way the characters live would have to be adjusted significantly. Monsters and Gods would not be relevant challenges and, in this day and age. Also, it is nearly impossible to get away with breaking the law, so that also would have to change to fit modern American standards. If these key factors were changed, it would mean the setting, characters, and the behavior of the characters are no longer similar to the original story. These factors being changed would result in a total overhaul of the original nature of the tale. In short, it is impossible to change the setting of Ancient Greece to modern-day America without large plot changes because the mythology, way of life, and the core of the story would have to be transformed.

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