Penelope's Role In The Odyssey Essay

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Does Penelope exhibit any substantial moral agency in Homer’s Odyssey or is she just another pawn in the patriarchal game of getting glory for the guys? I SHALL ARGUE THAT Penelope plays a vital role in the way that the Odyssey plays out. Penelope, unlike other female characters in the classical world, shapes the way that her life unfolds. Through her actions in this epic poem, not only does Penelope create her own destiny, she gets her own glory. Penelope’s key dilemma centered on the instructions given to her by her husband, Odysseus, prior to his journey to fight in the Trojan War. Odysseus instructed Penelope that if he did not return back home by the time Telemakhos had a beard that she must remarry and leave the palace (18.325). Despite the instructions given to her by Odysseus, Penelope does not wish to remarry. As years pass without the return of Odysseus, suitors begin to arrive at the palace of Odysseus, longing for Penelope’s hand in marriage (1.117). She holds off the suitors for many years, through a trick. She tells them that when she completes a shroud for Odysseus’ father, Laertes, that she will choose a suitor to remarry (19.160). However, she unweaves the work that she completed for the day, every day for years, to prolong the process. Eventually the suitors figure out about this (2.100). Now she cannot escape making a decision. The…show more content…
She makes the decision to set up the bow contest, in which the winning suitor will marry her (19.663). This scene provides us with an example of Penelope making a critical ethical decision. Even our hero, Odysseus could not have fully achieved his return home without his wife disobeying his commands, due to her loyalty and love for him (19.147). Penelope’s moral choice also shows that she has the ability to hold her own under pressure. When Odysseus leaves, she becomes the head of the household. In fact, Odysseus likens his wife to a just and pious king
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