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Essay on Names in The Odyssey and The Bible

Importance of Names in The Odyssey and The Bible

Two of the most widely studied ancient works are Homer’s Odyssey and the book of Genesis from the Bible. Each of these texts provides a unique viewpoint of an early civilization. In both of the texts, one can learn not only stories about great heroes, but also about the way that these peoples lived and what they believed. Many interesting parallels can be drawn between the two developing societies shown in the Odyssey and the book of Genesis. One parallel is the importance placed on names by each culture. Although viewed as important in different ways, the value placed on a name shows a striking similarity between the evolving cultures of both the Greeks and the Hebrews.

In the Odyssey, Homer’s characters frequently allude to the importance of names. For these ancient Greeks, a name symbolizes one’s identity, ancestry, and honor. It is the one thing a man always owns, even if he possesses nothing else. This is clearly shown through the hero, Odysseus. While traveling home from the Trojan War, Odysseus, in effect, loses his title, land, and power for twenty years. He remains with nothing but his name to speak for his character and person. As he himself says at the beginning of Book IX when beginning to tell his story to the Phaiacians, “First of all I will tell you my name, and then you may count me one of your friends if I live to reach my home, although that is far away. I am Odysseus Laertiades, a name well known in the world as one who is ready for any event.” Although away from his home and all things that could speak well of him, Odysseus is still in possession of his name, which clearly shows his good character. This speech of Odysseus also show…

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… to be carefully guarded, for if everything else is lost, it remains forever. Thus, there is nothing more precious to a man than to have a name that carries intrinsic honor and meaning throughout his whole life. A man is defined by who he is, and that is shown best through his name. As clearly shown in the texts, to have a good name and to be remembered by it ought to be the main goal for any and every man.

Works Cited and Consulted

Bloom, Harold , Homer’s Odyssey: Edited and with an Introduction, NY, Chelsea House 1988

Heubeck, Alfred, J.B. Hainsworth, et al. A commentary on Homer’s Odyssey. 3 Vols. Oxford PA4167 .H4813 1988

Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.

Tracy, Stephen V. ,The Story of the Odyssey Princeton UP 1990

The Holy Bible. New Revised Standard Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989.

Comparing Jane Eyre and Yellow Wallpaper

Similarities Between Jane Eyre and Yellow Wallpaper

There are notable similarities between Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. These similarities include the treatment of space, the use of a gothic tone with elements of realism, a sense of male superiority, and the mental instability of women.

There is a similar treatment of space in the two works, with the larger, upstairs rooms at the summer lodging and at Thornfield Hall being associated with insanity and the smaller rooms below being safer and saner. Gilman’s narrator expresses an early desire to move downstairs to a smaller, saner room, but her wish is ignored. Large rooms become haunted rooms in both stories as typified by the room with the yellow wallpaper, the Red Room, and the third floor room beyond which Bertha is confined.

Both works contain gothic elements, but there is a conscious effort on the part of both narrators to dispel the gothic tone with elements of realism. Gilman’s narrator begins to describe her eerie summer lodgings, but notes “there was some legal trouble with the heirs and co-heirs… That spoils my ghostliness, I am afraid” (11). Jane likewise is both affected by and resists the supernatural. For instance, she notes along with Grace Poole’s fantastic laughter, her affinity for beer. However, the most notable similarity between the two works is the presence in each house of a “madwoman in the attic” (to borrow from Gilbert and Gubar). In the case of Gilman’s narrator (unnamed, but with one ambiguous reference that it may be Jane) and Bertha, madness id the result of traditional Victorian marriages, from which both transgress. Clearly implied in Gilman’s text and interpretable in Bronte’s …

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…e Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper. New York: Feminist Press, 1973.

Golden, Catherine, ed. The Captive Imagination: A Casebook on “The Yellow Wallpaper.” New York: Feminist Press, 1992.

——. “The Writing of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’: A Double Palimpsest.” Studies in American Fiction. 17 (1989): 193-201.

Haney-Peritz, Janice. “Monumental Feminism and Literature’s Ancestral House: Another Look at ‘The Yellow Wallpaper'” Women’s Studies. 12 (1986): 113-128.

Kasmer, Lisa. “Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’: A Symptomatic Reading.” Literature and Psychology. 36, (1990): 1-15.

Lodge, Scott. “Fire and Eyre: Charlotte Bronte’s War of Earthly Elements.” The Brontes: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Ian Gregor. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1970. 110-36.

Maynard, John. Charlotte Bronte and Sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1984.

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