The Character Of Penelope In Homer's Odyssey

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David Ligare painted a woman on canvas. The thick horizontal layers of sky, water, and earth, that fill the frame, mimic a standstill in time, or perhaps a building up of successive pressure. Slicing through these stratospheres sits a woman. She is tall, even when folded in a chair. All in white, she looks inwards, refusing the sight of the sea. With a harsh indignant frown, lifeless arms, and folded hands the woman seems tired of contemplation. This barefoot queen is Homer’s Penelope. Her journey is captured perfectly in this moment. From Ligare’s 1980 painting, Penelope1, there comes a notion that she is the story. This insight, that The Odyssey is about Penelope as much as it is about Odysseus, is also held by many critics today. The fact …show more content…

Both Odysseus and Penelope want the same thing, to be together. In order to achieve their goal, they face separate yet equal challenges. Odysseus takes on sirens, cyclops, and Poseidon’s wrath. His struggle is an active voyage, continuously moving. On the other hand, Penelope takes on the world from her home. She is physically static, but has several mountains to overcome. Yet, this does not make her journey inferior to her husband’s. His story is exciting and thrilling, but Penelope’s has a slower simmer that entices the audience to look closer. It is easy to focus on the action packed sections of the story. But consider that Homer does not even enter Odysseus’s realm until the fifth book. Most would not dwell on the woman waiting at home as extensively as Homer does. Yet, he takes it a step farther by assigning Penelope as the guardian of Athena’s symbol, the olive tree. In the end, it is a full circle that encompasses the sacred olive tree bed that the faithful queen has preserved. Therefore it makes sense that, Athena, the goddess of wisdom is the puppeteer behind Odysseus’s journey. She is constantly pointing his sails to Penelope. By using the olive tree as a symbol, Homer begs the audience to recognize Penelope as the heroine of the

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