Circe – Madeline Miller – “A golden cage is still a cage.”

Is Circe by Madeline Miller worth reading?

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Although this novel has so many important points, themes, and discussion topics, which we will see over our book club question list, we would like to focus on the character development that Miller manages to unwind in such a manner that made Circe the best book we have read so far.

In the construction of the novel, Miller follows the structure of taking Circe through a journey that starts with losses and when hitting rock bottom, picks up to incredible events. Pretty privilege has always played an important role in Greek Mythology, and in society nowadays. Other gods see Circe as worthless, powerless, ugly, and with a horrible voice. However, from the beginning, we can see Circe being rebellious and doing what she believes is right. Through her experience with Prometheus, we can foreshadow Circe’s destiny and evolution.

Defiant, smart, witty, and unstoppable, Circe confronts all the symbols of the patriarchy around her, the gods, her father, her brother, and other men who come close to her to harm her and take advantage of her. Although this is a journey on its own, when Circe is cast away, she starts to develop her personality and bloom, and for the first time in the novel, she recognizes her potential, power, and desires.

Through the symbolisms of womanhood, sisterhood, and motherhood, Circe starts confronting patriarchy and her conceptions of being successful and powerful through her experience with gods and her island. She seeks knowledge and trains her magical powers. In her exile, Circe becomes one of the strongest witches in Greek Mythology ever. Miller purposefully develops Circe’s magical powers in isolation. Without help or guidance, Circe discovers that she, like many women, can do everything without having a “man” next to her. Her empowerment, strength, and independence make her a threat to the system, even to the almighty gods that attempted to use her as an example by punishing her.

Following the cycle of life, Circe embodies the three archetypes of the virgin, the mother, and the crone. The naïve virgin is fooled and stepped on by men and other evil characters. The mother who starts to grow and experience lives through different events that form her character, and the crone whose knowledge, wisdom, and power allow her to leap further in her character development and even of becoming a mentor herself.

In a natural prose with monumental milestones, Miller not only retold the myth of Circe, but she created a brand new story that marked the lives of many readers who needed a role model to break free.

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