Illustration of Odysseus tied to a ship's mast

The Odyssey

by Homer

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I need help with writing paragraphs about Odysseus and his main goal in The Odyssey. I am supposed to write an argumentative paper, and the assignment says, “Such argument will offer a critical analysis of the text, shedding light on a subject that demands greater explanation while showing an understanding of the work’s complexities. You must have both premises and a conclusion in order to have a complete argument. A conclusion without premises is merely an unsupported conjecture. Premises without a conclusion are merely disconnected claims. Additionally, the conclusion must make a debatable claim.”

Expert Answers

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Odysseus’s main goal is usually identified as getting home, and he ultimately accomplishes that goal. As laid out in the quoted assignment, the argument that a writer develops for a critical analysis could focus on why or how he returns home. The subsequent paragraphs would then develop specific points that are raised in the argument.

Odysseus has numerous identities, including husband, father, and king. An argument that addresses “the work’s complexities” could take into account one or more of those identities. The writer should look at various points in the text to determine which one seems most important to him and to consider how his priorities change throughout his journey. Another major consideration is the Greek worldview that Homer presents in which the gods strongly influence—if not totally determine—how an individual’s life develops.

Considering such factors, the writer could develop an argument that emphasizes a specific aspect of his identity or stresses the gods’ influence. An example of an argument that emphasizes family might read,

Odysseus achieves his main goal of returning home because he wants very much to be reunited with his wife.

An argument that stresses his position as king could state,

Odysseus is motivated to achieve his main goal of reaching Ithaca by his concern about the well-being of his kingdom.

Alternatively, an argument that privileges divine intervention would credit the principal deity who aides him:

Odysseus succeeds in returning to Ithaca because Athena helps him overcome even the most arduous obstacles.

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