Toxic Masculinity in Homer's Odyssey Essay



During this term I feel as though one of the things I reflected on most often was the abundance of toxic masculinity, mistreatment of women, and gender inequality in general. Starting in week 2 I began to notice the hubris and need to control everything though the character Odysseus. “I think these tasks are a sign of Odysseus unwillingness to accept that he can't have control over every situation. By not stuffing his ears when around the sirens he's trying to convince himself that he's strong enough to handle their spell despite being told how dangerous they are”(Thread One, Discussion Forum Week 2). From then these traits continued to show up in numerous male characters throughout the term. 

In addition to discussing the toxic masculinity of numerous characters, I also often pointed out the unfair treatment of female characters compared to the males. This theme is one that also came to my attention though Odysseus, through both the suitors aggressive courting as well as Odysseus’ own disloyalty to his wife. The biggest example I came across was during “Dante’s Inferno”, where Helen of Troy and Cleopatra were in the second layer of hell for, in my opinion, no good reason. I was especially defensive with Helen of Troy as I saw her punishment to be completely unjustified. “It rubbed me the wrong way to see Helen of Troy there when the "sin" I'm assuming she was guilty of was falling for Paris, despite Aphrodite's influence. I want to talk about this because unless I'm missing something Helen did I see no reason for her to be there when Aphrodite messed with her mind and made her fall for Paris” (Notebook Entry, Week Nine). 

Through the glorification of toxic masculinity and the mistreatment of women, the biggest recurrence I saw throughout all the readings in the term was the double standards between male and female characters. This first came to my attention through the relationship between Odysseus and his wife Penelope. During his voyage Odysseus slept with two women while his wife was expected to remain faithful. While Odysseus suffered no consequences from his infidelity, I feel that his wife would suffer grave consequences if she slept with a man while her husband was away, as I discussed in my first notebook entry: “The double standard of faithfulness in marriage is really apparent in ancient Greece, as I feel that Penelope would suffer a harsh fate if she were to sleep with another man while her husband was away” (Notebook Entry, Week 2). Although I failed to make a discussion post or notebook entry about it, I felt like Odysseus hanging his female servants only proved my point. Not only did he have them killed for merely sleeping with the suitors, but he and his son decided to kill them in what was considered the most humiliating way possible and had them all hung. The difference between men and women continued to be a common trait in all the stories assigned this term and was even pointed out in “Agamemnon”, which I discussed in my fifth notebook entry. “I really love Clytemnestra. Not only did she have the guts to kill Agamemnon, but she stood up for herself when the chorus condoned her actions and threatened her with exile. She even calls them hypocrites and points out that no one protested when Agamemnon killed his daughter” (Notebook Entry, Week Five). Discussing the inequality between male and female characters was something I did fairly often throughout the term and I feel like this course helped me analyze the double standards between genders as well as figure out why they were occurring.

 

Works Cited

Brunner, Erin. “Discussion Forum Week Two, Thread One.” English 200. Doctor Donna Rondolone. English Department, Drexel University. October 2, 2020. Web.

Brunner, Erin. “Notebook Entry, Week Five.” English 200. Doctor Donna Rondolone. English Department, Drexel University. October 19, 2020. Web.

Brunner, Erin. “Notebook Entry, Week Nine.” English 200. Doctor Donna Rondolone. English Department, Drexel University. November 16, 2020. Web.

Brunner, Erin. “Notebook Entry, Week Two.” English 200. Doctor Donna Rondolone. English Department, Drexel University.September 28, 2020. Web.