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The Odyssey

The Odyssey

Analysis

The Odyssey as Booker’s Seven Basic Plots Analysis: The Quest Plot

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Quest

The Call

[Not in the book]

Booker pretty much built the "Quest" plot around The Odyssey, so this should be easy. "The Call" is Odysseus's yearning to go home from Troy once the city has been destroyed and the war is over. Sure, it's not actually depicted in The Odyssey—but we'll give Homer a break, since he practically invented the thing.

The Journey

Books V-XIII

While sailing, Odysseus faces obstacles like monsters (the Cyclops Polyphemos, Skylla and Charybdis) and temptations (the Lotus Eaters, the witch Circe, the Sirens, and Kalypso). Along the way, he receives advice from gods (Athene, Hermes), beautiful women (Circe, Kalypso), and wise old seers (Teiresias).

Arrival and Frustration

Books XIV-XVI

The Phaiakians bring Odysseus safely home to Ithaka, but he can't exactly waltz into his wife's open arms; he has to go in disguise, find allies amidst the traitors, and plot against the suitors. Oh, and hope for some timely divine help.

The Final Ordeals

Books XVII-XXII

In this stage, the hero undergoes a "series of tests" to prove that he's worthy of his goal/prize/wife, etc. In this case, Odysseus has to prove first his patience (he can't beat the living pulp out of men like Antinoös, as that would give away his disguise); his physical prowess (by winning Penelope's contest); his knowledge (with regards to the unmovable bed); and finally his diplomacy (by diffusing the angry-parents situation and restoring peace to Ithaka).

Whew. And you thought the SAT was hard.

The Goal

Book XXIV

By defeating the suitors, Odysseus reclaims his faithful bride Penelope, his father in Laertes, his house, and is accepted by the Ithakan people as King. That's how it's done, son. (Literally. With his dad back and being all dad-ly, Telemachos finally has an appropriate male role model and can stop being a whiny brat.)

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