Cold Mountain/The Odyssey Comparison

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade August 2001

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More than twenty-five hundred years ago a renowned epic of Greek mythology was written. This work, known as The Odyssey, illustrates the journey home made by Odysseus, a Trojan war hero, who seeks his wife Penelope. Similar in plot, though written only four years ago, Cold Mountain is a romantic saga which depicts the travels of Inman, a Confederate soldier, at his attempt to reunite with his love Ada. Homer's The Odyssey and Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain tell of the struggles faced by the man and woman of each novel's relationship. Although these works are written thousands of years apart, both incorporate one man's effort, after fighting war, to return to his love while encountering several obstacles that hinder and assist his journey.

In The Odyssey, Penelope faithfully waits for Odysseus to return home. She is unsure as to whether or not he is alive, but even so, she remains loyal to her husband.

While Odysseus is overcoming obstacles along his journey home, Penelope also survives through her own difficulties. She is in the palace with her son, Telemachus, and hundreds of rude, hopeful suitors. In order to avoid choosing a new husband, Penelope devises a plan: she insists that she will choose a suitor upon her completion of sewing a shroud for Lord Laertes' eventual death. "So by day she used to weave at the great web, but every night she had torches set beside it and undid the work. For three years she took us in by this trick." This plan works for her until a servant betrays her and tells the suitors about it. Another clever scheme Penelope forms is to suggest an archery contest and have the winner become her new husband. However, Penelope knows there is only one individual capable of shooting Odysseus' arrow through...