Essay Preview: The Odyseey
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After just the first four books of The Odyssey, it is clear that several themes are already starting to develop. One of these themes is the concept of “coming of age” and how it relates to Odysseus son, Telemachus. Although the theme may not be central to the novel as a whole, it certainly is significant in the beginning. The journey of Telemachus throughout the first four books gives the reader a glimpse of what will happen later on in the story. The text does not clearly show the reader who or what is responsible for Telemachus maturation over the course of the first four books. It could be due to the behavior of the offensive suitors, Athena (Mentes), or simply time itself that caused him to change. One thing however is certain, and that is how Telemachus grows and develops during the first four books. The maturation of Telemachus is most clearly impacted by those around him such as Mentes, Nestor, and Menelaus and the stories they have to tell.
Upon being introduced to Telemachus, his innocence and youthful mind is quite obvious. Telemachus lies down hopelessly while daydreaming of his father dropping in to save everyone. He lacks the strength, courage, and confidence needed to save his own home. After a brief visit from Mentes, an old friend of Odysseus a small change that even surprises his own mother occurs. Mentes encourages Telemachus and even manages to say that “he must not cling to [his] boyhood any longer.” At the very end of the first book, Telemachus declares to his mother that he holds “the reins of power in [the] house.” This of course surprises his mother because until that day, he had never shown any courage or will to take charge of the family in the absence of Odysseus. Simply standing up to his own mother however means very little but it does show the reader that a major change is about to occur later on.
With the dawning of a new day also comes a more mature Telemachus who finally seems ready to assert his newfound manhood. The excessive abuse in his own home by the suitors has finally caused him to take a more aggressive approach by taking action and declaring the behavior of the suitors shameful. An elder by the name of Aegyptius is the first to point out Telemachus maturity and the striking similarities that he now has to his own father, specifically his courage. Telemachus declares that the behavior of the suitors will not be tolerated and will go out to discover the truth of his father.
After meeting King Nestor in Pylos, he hears an inspiring story that parallels his situation back in Ithaca with the suitors. In Nestors story,