Ms. Muzaurieta’s Critical Lens Assignment: The Odyssey
Introduction: Literature can be looked at through a variety of critical lenses. On this assignment, you will work with four. After each one, I suggest questions which will help you identify moments which connect to each lens, as well as characters. Feel free to think outside the box.
1. Gender/power issues (Feminist)
- Related questions: What rights do women have? What about control over their lives? How does this compare to men’s rights? What do women say about themselves? What is not said?
- Characters to consider: Penelope, Telemachus, Helen, Clytemnestra
2. Gender/construction of masculinity & femininity
- Related questions: What kind of characteristics are shown by men and women: beauty, strength, weeping? How are their behaviors described?
- Characters to consider: Penelope, Telemachus, Menelaus, Odysseus, descriptions of beauty, physical prowess, and weeping
3. Social class (Marxist)
- Related questions: High-ranking visitors must be welcomed as guests. How are they recognized and described? How does Athena appear? Is a person’s social standing visible? How are slaves treated and described? How are guests of a lower social standing treated?
- Characters to consider: Athena; Eurycleia; Telemachus & Pisistratus when they meet Menelaus
4. Youth vs. Age
- Related questions: Look at issues of respect, or the lack of it. How is youth or old age connected to respect?
- Characters to consider: Telemachus, Halitherses, Mentor
1. Preparation: Skim Books 1-4 and record related text, noting book and line numbers. Requires 2 quotes for each lens (8 minimum). Set up charts (1” margin & landscape) to fill in with group. Keep the quotes for one lens together, and label them. Only two quotes per page - you'll need room to write.2. Discussion with Group: Share, read, discuss and analyze related textual moments; record thoughts on charts. (Each person fills in her/his own chart). Hand in your group interpretation charts in a packet at the end of class.
+ Lens (below)
Quote (partial if very long)
Group interpretation - to be filled in with group
"…I hold the reins of power in this house." – Telemachus
Answer and explain: “How does the quote relate to this lens? What is revealed about cultural attitudes?”