“Odyssey”: The Relationship between the Monstrous and the Human Response Essay

February 2, 2022 by Essay Writer


When looking at the relationship between the monstrous and the human in Odyssey, it can be seen that monsters represent, in many instances, the darker side of humanity.

The Cyclops

When looking at the instance where Odysseus encounters the Cyclops Polyphemus, it is often the case that people see a giant monster that is out to eat visitors.

However, as it can be seen through the dialogue between Polyphemus and Odysseus, Polyphemus does have the capacity for reason and understanding yet continues to perform his actions anyway despite alternatives being present (i.e. he eats humans despite the fact that sheep are present). In this particular instance, Polyphemus and his one eye represent people who look at things through only one perspective.

The end result is that they neglect to see the end result of such actions and in turn this results in adverse consequences towards them (i.e. in this case Polyphemus had his eye gouged with a sharp stick).


While the sea nymph may seem to be “good” in the sense that she took very good care of Odysseus on her island, in reality she actually symbolizes the aspect of complacency that exists within us all.

Through the dialogue in the story we can see that while she has made Odysseus comfortable, he is not truly progressing in life despite his desire to do so. Such an aspect is present in us all wherein we become lured by the comfort of complacency that we find ourselves unable to move forward when we should have done so.


What Circe represents is harder to ascertain since she both turned the men into swine yet took good care of them afterwards. However, upon reading more of the dialogue it can be seen that Circe represents fear of moving forward which often results in loneliness and heartache later in life. In the story it is revealed that the reason that Circe turned the men into swine was due to bad experiences she had with men in the past.

Since she never moved forward from such a feeling she became stuck in the past and, as a result, became incredibly lonely. This is a behavior that we all experience all too often wherein we become so focused on what has happened to us that we become too afraid to move forward and experience new things. This can eat away at a person leaving them lonely and friendless with no one to talk to but the walls of their home.

The Lotus Eaters

The Lotus eaters in the story are very familiar since they represent the addictions that burden us in life. This can by anything such as junk food, television, sex, drugs or anything that causes to obsess over something so completely that we discard everything else to focus on such an addiction.

This can often result in men or women turning in to monsters in order to get their “fix” and, as such, is an appropriate representation of the darker side of humanity that lurks within us all that is waiting to come out and drag us down just as addiction has entrapped the Lotus eaters in the story.


After examining the various characters that was encountered by Odysseus on his journey, it can be stated that when looking at the relationship between the monstrous and the human in Odyssey, monsters represent, in many instances, the darker side of humanity.

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