Penelope's Role In The Odyssey By Edwin Muir

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In The Odyssey, Homer constantly depicts Penelope as calm, collected, and faithful to Odysseus’s wishes; however, Edwin Muir’s poem shows a different side of the perfect queen. Edwin Muir uses descriptions of chaos and undoing in “The Return of Odysseus” to emphasize the role that Penelope’s management plays in the dissolution of Ithaca and the house of Odysseus. The first stanza eludes to the chaotic vibe that results from Penelope’s management and how Ithaca changes after Odysseus leaves. In Homer’s The Odyssey, Odysseus describes Ithaca as “sunny” and “[the] sweet[est] sight on Earth”, however, the Ithaca that Odysseus recalls is different than the current Ithaca that Penelope rules alone (9: 23, 31). In contrast to Odysseus’s Ithaca, Penelope’s Ithaca has descriptions of chaos. One example of the destruction in her Ithaca is that of …show more content…

Quintessentially, Penelope believes that keeping a “vacant gate” and “do[ing] and undo[ing] is duty, and that she is aiding the running of the house, when really she causes the house to languish (23). Ultimately, it is Penelope that induces the annihilation of all good in Ithaca, because while “walls [crumble]”, all that Penelope does to stop it is supplementary “undo[ing]” (10). Penelope adds on to the destruction that the door being open by undoing even more. Moreover, she leaves the door open, which allows for her home to be engulfed by the suitors, and adds on to the destruction they cause by “unweaving” the last strings that hold together Ithaca (16). Overall, Penelope’s “chosen task” of of “unweaving” and “undo[ing]” adds on to the destruction that leaving the door open causes, thus making the decay of the resources and the quality and status of Ithaca and the house of Odysseus more rapid (15, 16,

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