The Role Of Women In The Odyssey And King Lear

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The Role of Women in the Odyssey and King Lear This essay will examine Homer’s epic, The Odyssey and William Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear in order to explain how the female gender is constructed in relation to the protagonists in each of the texts. It will demonstrate how the denial or acceptance of the common female role makes an important statement about the relationship between masculine and feminine identity. The texts assert that a complete balance of masculine and feminine qualities is needed to ensure that the protagonists Odysseus and King Lear remain successful in their endeavors. This will be supported using the primary archetypes of the unconscious mind characterized by psychiatrist Carl Jung: the anima (female self) and the animus (male self).Both texts present the ideal female role as a motherly figure that is nurturing, caring and graceful. In doing so, the texts serve to make the cautionary statement of how the deviation of the female from this role may allow the male protagonist’s plans to go awry. It is within the male’s best interest that the female remains loyal to this role. I will begin by focusing on Odysseus’ stay with the goddess Calypso on the island Ogygia. Odysseus’ seven years with Calypso consists of him feeling overwhelmed with the need to be dependent on a female entity – both in the sense that he becomes a helpless boy who longs for the care of a mother and in the sense that his inner adolescence causes him to be overcome by his sexual desires. Odysseus’ inundation by Calypso is significant because it demonstrates his own lack of control; he becomes possessed and taken over by his inner unconscious self. As a result, there is no room for his masculine form, except in its most primal state. Thus, he both craves and resents the relationship with the feminine he requires – it should not be forgotten that Calypso shelters
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