For centuries, the art of literature has been used as a means of entertainment. Beyond entertainment, texts serve to preserve a particular culture for future generations. These old texts not only entertain, but also provide readers with a glimpse of the values and morals past societies deemed important. With that being said, it is important to realize that each piece of work along with each author is different and should be read accordingly. For instance, the roles of women in literature have transformed along with the changes of societal views. In the stories Lanval by Marie de France and The Odyssey by Homer, women are portrayed very differently, and yet they still play significant roles within each plot. Throughout The Odyssey women are continuously considered inferior to men, yet in Lanval women are shown respect. For example, each interruption throughout The Odyssey involves a woman attempting to discourage Odysseus from completing his journey. However, in Lanval, the roles of women are reversed. In fact, women actually have the ability to influence the fortune of men. The roles of women in the two stories differ by the types of characters they represent, their status in society, and also by the level of control they have over their own destiny. .
When examining the following texts it is obvious to see that not only are the storylines different but also the ways in which women were portrayed. The Odyssey is an epic poem, written by Homer, which illustrates the god-like Odysseus' returning voyage from the Trojan Wars back to Ithaca. Along the way, Odysseus is constantly faced with outlandish interruptions, most of which seem to have derived from a woman such as: Circe the nymph, the spellbinding Sirens, and the monstrous Scylla and Charybdis. Each of these female characters is portrayed as viscous creatures, only interested in distracting Odysseus from his journey. For example, this passage clearly illustrates the impact that Circe's disturbance had on Odysseus' voyage.