Patriarchy In Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad

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Throughout time and history, patriarchy has taken over. The Penelopiad, a novel by Margaret Atwood set in ancient Greece shows a group of characters differently than The Odyssey. Before, The Odyssey portrayed the maids as promiscuous, evil, and wanted the audience to think badly of them. The Penelopiad, however, shows them as innocent and harmed, and wants the audience to have sympathy for them. Before, The Odyssey made the maids appear to be evil. The Penelopiad, though, shows a more innocent side to them. When the situation of the maids having sex with the suitors is brought up in court during Odysseus’ trial, the judge states; “The Suitors raped them. Nobody stopped them from doing so. Also, the maids are described as having been hauled…show more content…
When the maids compare their dreams to their reality, “In dreams, we all are beautiful...all is mirth and kindness/There are no tears of pain.../But then morning wakes us up:/Once more we toil and slave,/And hoist our skirts at their command/For every prick and knave” (126). In The Penelopiad, the maids’ more childlike side is shown. They dream of men taking them away, being princesses, and actually being loved. But then, they must go back to slaving away, being property. The Odyssey makes it seem as if the maids actually liked being this way, that they actually liked the things they did and the things that happened to them. The Penelopiad alters this. It shows that they did not want this, and they hated their lives. Thus, it makes the audience’s perspective change because the new information that is brought up paints a much different picture than The…show more content…
The maids plead and pray for their horrid lives to change because they are simply slaves, and others control their lives: “Oh gods and oh prophets, please alter my life,/And let a young hero take me for his wife!/But no hero comes to me, early or late-/Hard work is my destiny, death is my fate!”(52). The Odyssey shows the maids as people who deserve to be punished. However, Atwood in her novel shows how the maids are victims, and that it is the others who deserve to be punished. This urges the audience to have sympathy for them. The Penelopiad shows how the maids are living terrible lives, even though they don’t deserve to be. It shows how they dream of being treated with respect and dignity, but then compares it to the horrible reality they live in. The maids accept their fate as simple slave girls, and cannot do anything to change it. This makes the audience feel sympathy for them. The Penelopiad portrays the maids differently than in The Odyssey. Before, The Odyssey expected the audience to think badly of the maids, but The Penelopiad wants sympathy. This is shown throughout the novel. Margaret Atwood’s take on The Odyssey shows there is two sides to the
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