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Circe: a character finds self-worth

by Presley Hughes, reporter

Circe, Madeline Miller’s 2018 number one New York Times bestselling novel, is about the Greek goddess Circe, daughter of Perse, an ocean nymph and Helios, god of the sun. Helios, god of the sun and sunlight and Perse, an ordinary ocean nymph. 

Throughout Greek mythology, Circe has been labeled as weak and shoved to the side as an unimportant, and often misunderstood, character. But, Miller’s enchanting story highlights the virtually unknown goddess and her journey through heartbreak, betrayal and the discovery of herself.   

Circe is categorized as an adult fantasy story that shines light on the power that both average women and women of Greek mythology hold, which has been passed over for most of history. Miller did a fantastic job of showcasing Circe’s fierce and unforgiving power that is forcefully held inside her by her male counterparts. 

As a child, Circe often saw her mother, Perse, manipulating and deceiving others to gain power in her own home. In addition, Circe was always told to follow the commands of her father, brothers, uncles, and any other man that came along even though she was a goddess. 

This shows the struggle that even goddesses experienced. In Circe’s world, male gods were revered as the strongest beings in existence, even though female gods (goddesses) were equally powerful and influential. Goddesses were overlooked for the simple fact that they were female. 

Circe’s initial thought of women was that they are meant to follow the orders of the men around them. This viewpoint is somewhat understandable when considering the environment she grew up in. But as the book progresses and she goes through hardships with both herself and others, readers see Circe learning her self-worth and the worth of women as a whole. 

Miller writes “It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.” I believe that this quote shows the growth of Circe compared to the beginning of the book.

Miller successfully shows the beauty and complexity of being a woman and the strength and resilience that comes with femininity. Throughout the action of character and imagery within the text, readers can see the shift in Circe’s mindset toward women. 

Madeline Miller has achieved a beautiful, vivid image of a beautiful goddess finding her true worth in a world determined to take it from her. I give the text a five out of five star rating. Female readers looking for an inspiring story about a woman finding her true worth, this book would be a perfect read.

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