Middlesex

Middlesex as an Epic College

Jeffrey Eugenides’s novel Middlesex is one full of interesting and somewhat unique themes. There is no question as to why the work has gone so far as to win a Pulitzer Prize: it follows a pattern that has proven successful for thousands of years. Just as Odysseus and several other heroes of ancient Greece journeyed on epic quests, Cal Stephanides, in all his modern day glory, does much the same. Though his experiences do not involve any alluring sirens or deadly whirlpools, his story does contain several aspects of a classical epic; because of these attributes, it is safe to call Middlesex a modern epic. The novel covers a vast setting, there is an invocation to a muse early on, and there is divine intervention of sorts in regards to the actions of the novel’s characters. Eugenides incorporates several other factors that make the novel a national epic as well.

The first correlation between Middlesex and epics of the past is that the novel deals with a vast setting that covers many different countries. In essence, the progression of the novel spans half the world. As stated by critic Samuel Cohen, “It takes its readers from a Turkish village in the 1920s to the race riots of the late 1960s, following a Greek and then Greek...

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