Compare and contrast Telemachus, Antigone, and Hamlet as characters in transition from childhood to adulthood.
The course paper will be a thesis-driven, 5-7 page literary analysis research paper that explores a leadership/maturation theme as developed in The Odyssey and two other course primary source readings and informed by research in secondary sources (minimum of six sources, including the chosen course readings).
Proposal Assignment: Write a paragraph length proposal (100+ word minimum) for the Research Paper:
1) identifying a leadership/maturation related theme/topic addressed in the course readings;
2) identifying a leadership theory or approach to guide the analysis of the readings (Example: democratic, authoritative, authoritarian, servant style leadership, etc.);
3) including a thematically connected title identifying the authors/readings to be analyzed;
4) including a single clear thesis statement;
5) demonstrating careful editing for clarity, conciseness, and correctness before submission.
What an Aspiring Leader Needs: A Study of Leadership Nurture in Homer’s The Odyssey, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Telemachus is the heir apparent to the throne of Ithaka, but he lacks the maturity, confidence, and self-awareness needed to succeed as a leader at the opening of Homer’s The Odyssey. He lacks above all else a dynamic connection to Odysseus, his absent father. Two supporting characters in the epic function to bridge the gap for the king’s son, Mentor, the family steward and the goddess Athena. Separately, together, sometimes in disguise, sometimes hidden, but always present in spirit, they drive the son to find his father and learn the meaning of leadership, maturity, and his place in the family. Both Oedipus the King by Sophocles and Hamlet by Shakespeare explore similar thematic issues. Oedipus, like Telemachus, knows neither his father nor his full family story. His leadership and character are negatively impacted as a result. Hamlet also suffers a disconnect with his murdered father and is negatively impacted by destructive family dynamics.
Compare and contrast Telemachus, Antigone, and Hamlet as characters in transition from childhood to adulthood. What does it mean for each of them to be an adult? (Consider that for Antigone, for example, becoming a woman in Greek society meant getting married and having children whereas Telemachus and Hamlet are both born to rule.) What prompts this initiation? What challenges do they face in this transition? Remember that literature often gives us a snapshot of this initiation not the entirety of this initiation.
Compare and contrast three of the following characters (choose one per book) as they attempt to do their duty: Odysseus, Telemachus, Oedipus, Antigone, Hamlet, and/or Ophelia. How do they define their duty? Does this contrast with what society/family or the gods/God considers their duty to be? What challenges do they face in attempting to do their duty? How do they respond to this duty?
Compare and contrast Oedipus the King, Antigone, and Hamlet as tragedies that do or do not conform to Aristotle’ ideal of tragedy. You may want to pick a few key elements of Aristotle’s definition (tragic hero, etc.) as points of comparison. Do these tragic plays conform to the Aristotelian definition in part or in whole? [Hint: each of these plays have aspects that conform to this definition and aspects that do not conform.] Give examples. In the case of Hamlet, remember that Shakespeare is an English Christian playwright living after Christ (whereas the other authors in this course are Greek pagan writer living before Christ). Is there any way in which Shakespeare’s approach to tragedy might reflect his Christian beliefs?
Compare and contrast the leadership styles of Odysseus, Oedipus, Creon, Antigone, and/or Hamlet (pick three characters from three different books). You may use minor characters in order to highlight the character traits of these major figures. For example, you might contrast Fortinbras with Hamlet in order to show what kind of leader Hamlet is.
Compare and contrast the views of justice presented in one of three books: Odysseus, Oedipus the King, Antigone, and/or You might consider questions like how justice is defined in each of these works and how it relates to things such as rulership, divine law, human law, and/or revenge.
Or submit your own preferred comparison topic for professor approval.
Note: You have some discretion to choose what works/characters that you want to compare and contrast, but you must choose to write on the Odyssey in some way. For example: you can write about Telemachus, Antigone, and Hamlet, but you can’t write about Oedipus, Antigone, and Hamlet because that does not allow you to write about the Odyssey.
1. The Odyssey (Author(s):
Homer, Trans. R. Fagles
Shakespeare, Ed. Roma Gill
New York: Oxford
3. Three Theban Plays
Sophocles, Trans. Robert Fagles
New York: Penguin Group