Analysis of Telemachus in Odyssey
In the Odyssey, Telemachus, son of great hero Odysseus, who grows up in the world of greed and disrespect where the suitors take over his palace and court his mother, is one of the most significant character throughout the whole epic. His father, Odysseus, leaving the land Ithaca for 20 years, is the only warrior alive in Trojan war who hasn’t make his return home. During Telemachus’ expedition to search for the news of his father, he is under a process of maturation from the beginning in which he is mere a shadow of his father to the end in which he becomes more and more like him in terms of initiative, sensitivity and socialization.
Although he has come into his adolescence at the beginning of the book, however, growing up without a father still makes him somewhat pathetic without initiative. As the suitors show uncertainty about Odysseus’ return home, he presents no incentive and resolves to expel the suitors since he has long lost the faith that his father is still alive and will return home someday. As he said to Athena in book one:”Mother has always told me I’m his son, it’s true, but I am not so certain. Who, on his own, has ever really known who gave him life” and ” But now, no use, he’s died a wretched death. No comfort’s left for us…not even if someone, somewhere, says he’s coming home. The day of his return will never dawn.”(Homer 1.194 & 1.249) He does nothing but weep over his misfortune instead of standing out against them as a master in the house and protect his own estate while they are reveling in the palace by wasting his property. Not like his father, as one of the leaders in the Trojan war, who is not only adept in making decisions and giving orders to soldiers but also crafty in plotting schemes, at the beginning of the book, the prince is merely a spineless pampered child who follows other people.
Not until Athena, disguised as Mentes, shows up, convincing him Odysseus is still alive and propelling him to sail out for his father’s news does Telemachus begins to starts taking responsibility of the family. Athena’s counsel acts as catalyst suddenly provoking him to wake up. When his mother asked the bard to stop singing the song about how the Achaeans’ journey home form Troy, he accuses Penelope of blaming the innocent bard and asks her to withdraw to her chamber. He said in book one:”So, mother, go back to your quarters. Tend to your own tasks, the distaff and the loom, and keep the women working hard as well. As for giving orders, men will see to that, but I most of all: I hold the reins of power in this house.”(Homer 1.409) It is at that time he starts to realize his position as the master and begins to defend his mother’s dignity by confronting the suitors at the very first time.
However, people usually attribute his sudden development to the assistance of the goddess. So he is still undergoing the process of maturation until he takes the initiative on his own. And that step...