• 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.

    Suggested format:

    Book.line (pg)

    + Lens (below)

    Quote (partial if very long)

    Group interpretation - to be filled in with group

    1.414 (89)

    Lens Here

    "…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?”


Last Modified on November 15, 2016