Sittenfeld manages to create a three-dimensional character who the reader grows to appreciate and understand through the course of the novel. Hilary Rodham Clinton doesn’t owe us this much of her life just because she is a public figure, but the book, built around a great deal of nonfiction sources, allows us to begin to understand some of the situations and decisions she is faced with, and is very on the nose about the different expectations we have of women and men in public office.
The portrayal of Circe in the Odyssey is actually infuriating, she’s a beautiful nymph who lures Odysseus into bed (what else did women do in ancient times, even powerful witches) and turns his men into pigs. She uses her womanly charms to distract our innocent hero from his journey home to his wife. She is supposed to represent the dangers of excessive pleasure and comfort, and by giving her a story, by giving her a voice, Miller succeeds in creating a character that is more than a footnote in a mans quest.