World Lit 1 – Comparing Protagonists

Published 07 Sep 2017

Homer’s hero in The Odyssey – Odysseus – as well as Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote hero – Don Quixote – share certain characteristics based on their actions in the 2 novels. For example, the two protagonists demonstrate similar heroic traits, such as; both are courageous and excellent fighters. The 2 protagonists also face similar sad adventures, for instance, they are both unjustly persecuted by their enemies. Further, the two encounter entities that are in love with them although the 2 protagonists do not reciprocate to such love. The 2 heroes also depict notable differences regarding various personal aspects. Regarding their respective values, some of Don Quixote’s values conflict with those of his community. To illustrate, Don Quixote’s unbecoming behavior makes his compatriots angry. On the other hand, Odysseus actions and viewpoints do not conflict with those of his culture. Another difference between the 2 protagonists is that while Odysseus sets out on his voyage in order to achieve common good for the entire society, Don Quixote aspires to attain personal gratification and praise. All in all, through their 2 novels namely, Don Quixote and The Odyssey, authors Cervantes and Homer depict their 2 protagonists – Don Quixote and Odysseus – as heroes who share similarities besides demonstrating several notable dissimilarities.

For example, both Odysseus and Don Quixote are courageous based on their brave acts. To demonstrate, Don Quixote sacrifices personal comfort, shelter, and food on behalf of a lady called Dulcinea Del Toboso, thus demonstrating his courage. To demonstrate his intense love for Toboso, Don Quixote states that ‘she is as good as the greatest princess in the land’ (De Cervantes, 2006). Similarly, Odysseus gallantly participates in the war that helps to vanquish Troy, thus depicting his extreme courage. The passage ‘royal son of Laertes, Odysseus, man of exploits, still eager to leave at once and hurry back to your own home, your beloved native land’ denotes Odysseus’ gallantry (Parks, 1994).

Further, regarding misadventures, Odysseus resembles Don Quixote in that both are unfairly victimized by their foes. For example, the sea god – Poseidon – maliciously wrecks Odysseus’ sea vessel in order to settle an old grudge. Similarly, the Duchess and the Duke join efforts to cause trouble to Don Quixote, for example, by tricking him to go on an unnecessary voyage of hunting a fictitious vengeful giant that has supposedly mistreated a local princess. The Duke’s remarks that he ‘invent(s) false information’ are enough testimony to his (the Duke’s) treachery (Parks, 1994).

In addition, both Don Quixote and Odysseus are loved by personalities with whom the 2 heroes are not in love. To illustrate, a young girl resident at the home of the Duchess is smitten by Don Quixote who does not however demonstrate adequate seriousness regarding the affair. Likewise, Odysseus is deeply loved by Calypso – a nymph – but Odysseus does not love the nymph back. His serious stance, as is illustrated in his statement that people ‘ought not to practice childish things,’ might explain his resistance to Calypso’s love overtures (De Cervantes, 2006).

Conversely, the effects of the 2 heroes’ values on their respective communities are different. For instance, Odysseus’ benevolent values are appreciated by the community, as is evident through the decisions of some of his compatriots to help him to kill the suitors who taunt him as well as Penelope – his wife. Conversely, Don Quixote’s unacceptable acts, such as stealing from and harming local people, do not go down well with his compatriots who demonstrate fury towards him. Moreover, Don Quixote seeks for personal fame whereas Odysseus intends to benevolently benefit the entire community.

In conclusion, Odyssey’s Odysseus and Don Quixote’s Don Quixote are heroes with similar traits such as courage. Further, they face similar adventures such as being loved and not reciprocating such love as well as being persecuted by their foes. Regarding differences, while Don Quixote desires to be praised by his compatriots, Odysseus intends to assists the community without desiring fame. Moreover, whereas Odysseus’ acts are appreciated by his society, some of Don Quixote’s unbecoming acts are frowned upon by his compatriots.


  • De Cervantes, Miguel. (2006). Don Quixote. Madison Square, NY: Collector’s Library,
  • Parks, Andrew J. (1994). Homer’s the odyssey. Warsaw, Poland: Research & Education Association.
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