Mother Figure
By: Blake Christensen, Wade Martin, Colter George

Two Types of Mother:

There are two types of Mother Figures. The first type is the literal mother. She is the most common type of archetype and shows up most often in modern literature. The Mother Figure is a physical female human being who embodies characteristicssuch as being nurturing, trustworthy, empathetic, and protective.While mother figures have many good effects on those she is in contact with, negative effects include being overprotective, sheltering, and characters have trouble seperating from the mother figure. She can also give people a biased view on the world, by bringing them upto believe the same things she does. Examples of literal mother figures who are good in nature include Mother Goose, The Old Woman in the Shoe, Mother Teresa, The Fairy Godmother(Cinderella),and Mary from the Bible. Examples of "evil" or "bad" Mother Figures include Aunt Petunia, The Wicked Stepmother (Cinderella), and the witch and mother in Hansel and Gretel.


The second type of Mother Figure is the figurative mother. The figurative mother is common in mythology and is a higher power, not a human being, that is believed to have given creation to all. They often have similar traits to the literal mother and some of the figurative mother's positives include being creative, nourishing, and caring. Negative impacts of the figurative mother include being overprotective, destructive, hateful, and they often limit the developement of the world. Examples of mostly good figurative Mother Figures include Gaia, Athena, and Hera. These "goddesses" can take the form of organic being however, and do so periodically in ancient folklore. Most often they take form of various animals to watch over the land (An example of this is the wolf that mothers Romulus and Remus). They can, however, impersonate other humans, as seen by Athena in the Odyssey on multiple occasions.

Evil figurative Mother Figures include some gods and goddesses in mythlogy and characters from "Corn Mother" stories. An example of a Corn Mother would be from an Australian fable where a mean spirit in the form of a mother would come down and prick kids with her red hot iron fingers and attempt to roast and eat any child she could get her hands on.

Importance of the Mother Figure:
The Mother Figure has symbolic significance in literature that most readers are familiar with but the reader may not always be able to articulate all of the importances of the Mother Figure. The Mother Figure often symbolizes or in many cases is a bringer of life (either on a large or small scale). Youth figures often cannot develop without a Mother Figure and Mother Figures can often be characterized as protectors and/or providers of knowledge. As previously stated, it is often the Mother Figure's duty to prepare the hero of the story for the obstacles he/she will be facing in their journey. Mother Figures sometimes appear while the hero is in the middle of his journey and sometimes remind the hero of moral values or actions that he/she has forgotten or could be better demonstrating. Comforting the hero is another role that the Mother Figure often takes part in. It is typically the Mother Figure who has to let go of the hero as he/she begins their quest, and it is often the Mother Figure who rejoices in the return of the hero as he/she finishes their journey in the end.


Penelope as a Mother Figure: Penelope is the only real mother figure in The Odyssey. Although characters such as Circe may have some traits similar to a Mother Figure, it is Penelope who fits best as the Mother Figure in The Odyssey. However, Penelope's role as a mother is a somewhat underdeveloped; but that is most likely because it is not a novel about how she is nurturing and loving towards her son, but rather about longing for her husbands return. Because of this, Penelope is not a very strong Mother Figure and is often portrayed as a pushover. Nevertheless, she is caring and protective. This is exemplified when Telemachus sets sail for word about Odysseus without telling his mother he was leaving. Penelope was obviously not regarded highly enough by Telemachus for him to tell her of his voyage, but on the other hand, Penelope was deeply concerned about her son and upon his return she nurtured him like a good mother would. Penelope is also not a very strong disciplinarian, as displayed when Telemachus tells her to return to her room multiple time throughout The Odyssey and she can do nothing but return to her quarters. Despite a number of flaws, the reader must understand that Penelope is somewhat of a broken woman because she has no idea where her husband is and if he is even alive. It is evident that she has raised a strong and independent son who can easily protect himself, but it seems that Penelope would indeed be a much stronger and better Mother Figure during the novel if she was not distracted by Odysseus' absence.