From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Weary Traveler

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

He's mysterious, he's older, he'd rather pessimistic, he's "seen things," he's been changed... this, friends, is the weary traveler, a famous figure (always a man, we're afraid) who appears in tales of long voyages. It all starts with Homer's Odyssey and continues to be an image of the life-changing and exhausting toll of long trips to faraway places. Raphael Hythloday is just such a man:

"I was about to return to my quarters, when I happened to see [Peter Giles] talking with a stranger, a man of quite advanced years. The stranger had a sunburned face, a long beard and a cloak hanging loosely from his shoulders." (1.9)

We can think about the unique look of this figure as a way of signaling on the outside a change he's undergone on the inside. He doesn't look like most people because he's been through things most people haven't. The realities of long-distance travel by ship were harsh, and many explorers returned to their native lands physically and emotionally changed; these real-life adventurers actually did resemble their fictional counterparts.

If you're intrigued by these mysterious travelers check out Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner for some more juice.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...