Character Analysis Of Penelope In The Odyssey

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The Odyssey Character Analysis Essay During a time where males had complete hegemony over society, its customs, its people and its conventions, several women in the epic The Odyssey became notable through their actions that defied what it meant to be a woman in ancient Greece. As the wife of the renowned hero Odysseus, Penelope demonstrated a level of sagacity that rivaled that of her husband’s through the subtle deception of others. Similarly, the powerful magic wielding nymph Kalypso also revealed the outstanding intellect that enabled her to secure an iron rule over her own island. Although seeming to be radically different, these two individuals both utilized their wits extensively throughout the epic, differing only in the traits that…show more content…
This juxtaposition between the two characters reveals the Greek bias. Those who followed the Greek cultural values and stereotypes were seen as model citizens, while those who opposed or deviated from it were seen as villainous. When Kalypso saved Odysseus and therefore had the right to his life, she used magic so “that he should not die/ nor grow old, ever, in all the days to come” (5. 143-144). This shows that in addition to being in charge of her own island, Kalypso is a fairly skilled magic user. Her mastery over magic is displayed again when she “conjured a warm landbreeze to blowing...” (5. 277). In contrast, Penelope is powerless without the presence of her husband by her side, even begging to “be blown out by the Olympians!/ Shot by Artemis” so that she “still might go and see amid the shades/ Odysseus in the rot of underworld” (20. 89-92). She also becomes emotionally unstable in the wake of Odysseus’ disappearance, becoming easily swayed by her son’s words and reaching brief moments of clarity, before regressing back to “weeping/ for Odysseus, her husband”... when she mount[s] to her room again” (1. 410-412). But despite Penelope’s fragile state, she is still seen as being preferable over Kalypso due to the belief that it was good for women to depend on men. The quotes illustrate the clear divide…show more content…
This along with Penelope’s overall inability to function properly without her husband marks the stark differences between her and the self-assured and tenacious Kalypso, with the only major similarity between the two being their sharp wit that allowed the two to achieve their own
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