In Homer’s Poem, The Odyssey, Penelope is the exceptionally patient and clever spouse of the infamous hero, Odysseus, and the mother of Telemachus. One poignant factor of Penelope’s character is her patience and devotion which is displayed throughout the poem. With her husband absent for a great majority of her life for the later of twenty years and his location unknown, Penelope stays, patiently awaiting Odysseus’ return, all whilst preserving their estate and raising her son by herself. Throughout this time, she had many persistent suitors in pursuit of her, abusing her husband’s absence.
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
Penelope, his wife, is greatly affected; as many greedy suitors disrespect her and move into their home to try and win her hand in marriage. Throughout ‘The Odyssey’, the greed and folly of men play a huge part in increasing the difficulty and severity of Odysseus’s situations and ultimately change his fate and the directions of his journey. The greed and folly of men are largely represented by Penelope’s suitors. In the very first book of The Odyssey, the disgusting actions of the suitors were introduced to the readers.
These women influenced the conditions of the journey by guiding Odysseus in different directions, and aiding him crucially. Their authority showed the idea behind an old proverb, which states, “Behind every great man there’s a great woman”. Throughout The Odyssey, the women exemplified their power during the course of Odysseus’ journey. Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, bravely held down the front in Ithaca while her husband struggled to find his way back home. In Book 18, Penelope spoke to the ever-so-desperate suitors about what Odysseus “told” her before he left.
Although Odysseus is a famous, intelligent and heroic figure, his loyalty to Penelope is nonexistent. This is revealed by his affairs with other woman, his extended journey home, and by the fact that he failed to make Penelope his priority. Loyalty is not a difficult concept, all Odysseus had to do to fulfill this was avoid other women, and put Penelope above his selfish ways. His failure to do this proves him to be an unreliable husband, who does not deserve his selfless and trustworthy wife. Loyalty is an essential part of marriage or any relationship and requires both people involved in the relationship. In this case Odysseus is one of those people, but unlike in a good relationship he fails to uphold the duties to be faithful to the other
They both uphold the general values society places on their sexes, but through their hardships they are able to gain a fluidity in these roles not often given in their society. Odysseus was able to express emotion without undercutting his masculinity, and was able to appreciate his wife for more than her domestic accomplishments. While Penelope became a paradigm of fidelity, she also embodied inner-strength as she dealt with the turmoil of her missing husband, rowdy suitors, and the destruction of her kingdom; which allowed Odysseus to come to appreciate her ingenuity and his marriage in
In the journal article “Rewriting The Odyssey in the Twenty-First Century”. The idea of Penelope taking control into her own hands, in a time when women did not stand up for themselves but rather were emotionally constricted is shown. Penelope’s demeanor is of a woman that does not let society rule what she can or cannot do, and because of this thinking she is able to have an advantage over other women and of men who are the ones in charge of any decision-making (Suzuki). Penelope is the second female character that is not a god that is able to maintain authority of her own in The Odyssey. This is ultimately Homer’s way of expressing his views towards the male societies of his time and their
”(Homer. 202-204) Not only was Penelope giving up on life with the absence of Odysseus, her cries and longing for death express her powerlessness and uselessness in society. Without a loving husband in her life, she was nothing but a grieving, unhappy Greek woman who was capable of nothing but weeping. Her strength is nonexistent and she is literally unable to carry on without her husband. The Odyssey, like The Trojan Women, successfully illustrates the life of a Greek woman in ancient times.
However, these contrasts between their personal thinking built most of valuable points in Odysseus' epic journey, and making a more intense story. To some extent, these women are not foolish at all because at least they are successful at leading people to believe that waiting is meaningful. The whole story happened during the dark centuries of women in Greece, when their value was limited behind men. However The “Odyssey” gives an opportunity to horror their role, also rejecting all erroneous preconceptions about the woman. Penelope -- a typical woman who represents for an image of a devoted wife, a mother of family and she is also an image of how women was treated at Greece.
Penelope proves that women can be just as smart, if not smarter, than men. She outsmarts the suitors that invade her home to escape marriage. For example, she weaves each day for years and tells the suitors that when she is done she will marry. Homer writes, “This was her latest masterpiece of guile: she set up a great loom in the royal halls and she began to weave, and the weaving finespun, the yarns endless, and she would lead us on: ‘Young men, my suitors, now that King Odysseus is no more, go slowly, keen as you are to marry me, until I can finish off this web…” (Homer). She deceives them because she undoes all of her work after every day with the knowledge that they are too busy with feasts and wine to notice.
Although he is young, Telemachus is technically the "man of the house" and by Greek gender standards has control over his mother. The suitors know this as they suggest that Telemachus is prolonging the situation by not "sending his mother away with orders to marry" (124). Somehow this is a credible argument to the suitors and they vow to "eat you [him] out of the house" (134) essentially squandering all their resources until Penelope decides to marry one of the suitors. Furthermore, they disrespect Telemachus by saying "your inheritance is going down the drain and will never be restored" (223) and "you've got some nerve laying the blame on us when the suitors aren't at fault it's your mother" (93-95). The suitors try to convince Telemachus that he has no right to be angry and that he's in this situation because of his mother.
Despite the uncertainty of whether her husband and son were dead or alive (Homer 151), she continues to display strength and independence while patiently awaiting their return. Penelope is a beautiful example of an ancient Greek woman who upheld the traditions and values of woman during her time period. Despite the absence of her family, she continued to maintain and uphold her family name – bringing dignity and honor to her family. Each household duty that she completed was part of a larger goal, maintaining the value and meaning of their family name. While each one of these duties she accomplished might have appeared small in comparison to the achievements that the rest of her family obtained in native lands, she never lost faith.
Everyday women like Penelope were believed to have no purpose in common society other than being confined to a kitchen each day and complete domestic house duties. The name Penelope was deliberately selected as it translates to mean pulling, or spinning which is an allegorical phrase in itself, the first meaning associates her cunning weaving of plots and schemes which proves her to be sly and the secondary referring to cloth which was a part of an everyday life duty for women, producing articles of clothing. Being a hospitable host to guests was also a key function, which is first noticed when she offers help to Odysseus in disguise “Give him a wash and spread a couch for him here, with bedding and coverlets and with shining blankets”. It is argued that Penelope is secretly a spider, weaving her own web of lies getting stuck in her own trap which is hidden from the public as women were not meant to be clever or be known for any kind of crafty intelligence. In contrast to this old way of societies expectations, Atwood utilizes Penelope’s strength in character to warn women not to follow in her footsteps by giving them the advice of “Do not look the other way”, “Tell them (referring to males) what you think”, “Argue with them”, and “make them squirm”, these pieces of wisdom create a stronger emphasis on having equal respect and appreciation for women which also conflicts the differences between Ancient and Modern times and highlights the evolution of society.
To accomplish this analyzation I have structured this paper into an intro paragraph, four body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. The first body paragraph explains how Penelope’s forced marriage with Odysseus supports the patriarchy. The second paragraph analyzes Penelope’s character, and how the story diminishes her character to make men seem more powerful. The third paragraph dives into the relationship with the suitors and Penelope. I analyze how Penelope uses her situation to her advantage, and how that undermines the patriarchy.