Homer And Caliban Essay


Homer and Caliban The development of the theories of art education by various theories has been influenced by the various artistic works, especially poetry. In the past few centuries, poetry has become an important element in the development of English literature and various theories on the art of education. Notably, these poetry and theories are developed by various philosophers who have contributed in the growth of the field of education and the teaching practice. Apart from contributing to the development of education and teaching practice, these works of poetry helps in understanding medieval societies and the modern society in light of the changes that have taken place. This is achieved through portrayal of cultural stereotypes, heroic traits, treatment of women, and portrayal of inhabitants of the New World among others.

Homer's Heroic Traits and Chaucer Fashion Heroic Traits

Homer valorizes the single hero who becomes a cultural stereotype as expressed in his epic poems i.e. The Iliad and the Odyssey. Through portraying Hector as the perfect hero in The Iliad, Homer describes various characteristics of a hero including martial skills, bravery, and friendship. In the Odyssey, Homer depicts a hero as an individual with three major characteristics i.e. audacious, savior, and sly. Actually, Homer proposes that Odyssey is made a hero through demonstrating traits of being savior, sly, and audacious. Audacious is a characteristic that entails willingness to take unexpected bold risks as Odysseus shows in his adventures (Dan, par 2). For instance, in the Adventure of the Cyclopes, Odysseus took unexpected risk by climbing briskly to the cave (IX, 232-234). Upon entry into the cave of Polyphemus, Odysseus and his group shows audaciousness by daring Polyphemus, who is a cannibal, to war (Vaughan & Vaughan, p.58). The idea of a savior as a trait of heroism is introduced by Homer in the adventure of the Lotos Eaters where Odysseus saves three men and guides them back to the ship (IX, 103-104). The heroic trait of slyness is shown when Odysseus admits that he is a beggar (XVII, 12) and tries to conceal his identity from the Cyclopes in order to avoid cursing him.

The Homeric hero becomes a cultural stereotype because he lived by strict cultural and social norms that guides his life both at home and at war. The Homeric hero demonstrates these characteristics by understanding his position in the society and basing his performance on societal expectations. Therefore, none of the hero's actions or characteristics came from within but were largely guided by society's expectations, which make the single hero to become a cultural stereotype. Actually, the pattern of the hero as exemplified by Homer is one who encounters suffering and even death because of his belief that the society considers him as a god. As a result, the Homeric community was dependent on heroes who would protect the social, cultural, and religious rites of the community.

On the contrary, Chaucer fashions heroic traits for men depending on class, gender, and religious status by describing men with female characteristics. Through The Clerk's Tale and Man on Laws, Chaucer approaches heroic characteristics for men based upon class, gender, and religious status by showing that the female characters i.e. Grisildis and Custance take minimal actions despite being major characters in their tale. The female characters permit male characters in their tale to take control of the plot while they remain relatively quiet. In addition, Chaucer's male characters are identifying themselves with more than a single definition to include status and occupation. In this case, the heroic traits of men are fashioned based upon gender through the male pilgrims' deviation from the expected gender role. By deviating from the expected gender role, the male pilgrims challenge the definition of masculinity (Stuber, p.5). In light of changes in the social system, the definitions of masculinity include heroic, intellectual, courtly lover, and Christian. Based on religious status, heroic characteristics of men are fashioned through the concepts of male superiority that are borrowed from classical literature and incorporated into Christian doctrine. As a result, the religious status from Christian doctrine implies that men heroic traits entail dominance and virility. As demonstrated in Man of Law, heroic traits of men is shown as controlling others and viewing women negatively (2.B.360-361 and 2.B.370-371). With regards to class, Chaucer demonstrates men's heroic traits on the basis of emergence of new occupations in the church and the secular world, which implied that male roles could not be gendered. Men capitalized on these changes in the social system to reinforce ideas of male...


In this case, Homer provides a wide range of descriptions of monsters since they range from monsters to human beings. Generally, Homer describes monsters are being mental or physical and sometimes deceiving and boastful. For instance, Cyclops or Polyphemus, traps Odysseus and his men and eats some of them (IX.402-403). In contrast, Homer describes a villain as petty, disloyal, and selfish such as Achilles who is portrayed as an excessive villain in The Iliad. Achilles is a great villain since he stays at home nearly all the time and constantly argues with Agamemnon. On the contrary, the mother is described as a sexual object who is used by men for satisfaction of physical needs and wealth as shown in the Odyssey.
Chaucer uses irony and veils his contempt for women and lower classes through his definition of male pilgrims and their role in the society. He uses irony and veils his contempt by showing the overlapping gender identities and the tensions generated (Stuber, p.20). His contempt for women is demonstrated by assertions that men needed to use physical force in order to have a prominent position in the society since the society emphasized on wealth and power. However, he makes these assertions while seemingly criticizing the medieval society for having unrealistic expectations towards men, which is seemingly ironical. For the lower classes, Chaucer demonstrates his contempt by labeling them as weak or feminine since they failed to live up to the established standards in the society. Even though he advocated for restructuring of concepts associated with masculinity, Chaucer shows contempt for lower classes by arguing that masculinity and dominance was based on protecting defendants, provision for family, and impregnating women. People who did not match with these ideal, especially the lower classes, were labeled feminine and weak and people who deserve to lose status in the community.

Homer portrays the status and treatment of women in ancient civilizations as sexist who are mainly judged by their looks. In the Odyssey, a woman is regarded as beautiful and successful based on her appearance and if her husband or son is a hero. As a result, women in the Odyssey are mainly treated depending on their appearance, whether they have any power over men, and based on what men want from them. Therefore, Homer demonstrates that women in ancient civilizations are only valued based on whether they can meet the physical needs and wealth of men since they are viewed less important than men. Similarly, Chaucer describes women as less important than men in medieval England based on his definitions of masculinity. As a result, men in medieval England treat women based on the ideals of dominance as a means of promoting social order and stability. The dominance is particularly displayed through the use of physical force since the medieval society had unrealistic expectations of men. Some of these traits are still used in the society today despite the changes in the role of men and women. While women have been increasingly empowered over the decades, they are still regarded as less important than men, viewed as sexist, and a means of fulfilling men's physical needs.

Shakespeare's Construction of Caliban as a New World

There is a considerable difference in Shakespeare's construction of Caliban as a New World person against the European colonizers and Montaigne's argument of how Europeans portray inhabitants of the New World. Similar to the European colonizers, Montaigne constantly affirms that anything natural is synonymous with what is good, which implies that Nature should be the light through which human action is directed (O'Toole, par, 1). Based on these assertions, Montaigne, in his essay, "On Cannibals," demonstrates a highly idealized portrayal of the inhabitants of the New World. In essence, Montaigne argues that Europeans portray inhabitants of the New World as people who live based on the way Nature requires them to live i.e. unregulated and unadorned by modern civilization. In his essay, "On Cannibals," Montaigne claims that these inhabitants possess the golden age that is usually spoken of by poets and philosophers as merely an unachievable dream. Therefore, these inhabitants possess true, natural, and useful virtues as compared to those fettered and adorned by modern civilization.

Shakespeare differs sharply with Montaigne's argument of how Europeans portray inhabitants of the New World through his construction of Caliban as a New World…

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