The Struggles Of Penelope In Homer's The Odyssey

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The Odyssey is an epic poem written by the very well-known Greek poet, Homer. It details the events of Odysseus and the struggles he faced to returning home after the Trojan War. In The Odyssey, King Odysseus of Ithaka has not returned to his homeland for over a decade, and while he is away, a mob of unruly suitors has infringed his palace to court his wife, Queen Penelope of Ithaka. The plot of the book focuses mostly on Odysseus’s voyage home; however, the book illustrates how hard times were for Penelope. Throughout The Odyssey, Penelope has to cope with 108 suitors in her palace harassing her for her hand in marriage and taking advantage of the land. From beginning to end, Penelope remains faithful to her king and never stops believing…show more content…
It is a shroud I weave for Lord Laërtês, when cold death comes to lay him on his bier. (2.100-108) Using the shroud as an excuse to stall, Penelope deceived the suitors by sabotaging her own work to delay her completion. Eventually, Antínoös, one of the extrusive suitors, became aware of her doing. In Book Two, Antínoös says, “So every day she wove on the great loom—but every night by torchlight she unwove it; and so for three years she deceived the Akhaians.” (2.112-114) Secondly, Penelope’s next example of cleverness is when calls the “Test of the Bow”. Odysseus that she will marry the one who wins the “Test of the Bow”, the nearly impossible archery contest. Thirdly, Penelope knows she cannot believe everything she hears and sees. In Book Twenty-three, when Penelope becomes aware of Odysseus, she is reluctant to embrace her husband. Believing Odysseus could a god, she thinks it could be a trick. Penelope says: Dear nurse . . . the gods have touched you. They can put chaos into the clearest head or bring a lunatic down to earth. Good sense you always had. They’ve touched you. What is…show more content…
(23.13-18) Hesitant and shocked, Penelope must think of a way to confirm that the man is her husband. In Book Twenty-three, Penelope performs the “Test of the Bed” to determine if the alleged Odysseus is truly her husband. Penelope says: I am stunned, child. I cannot speak to him. I cannot question him. I cannot keep my eyes upon his face. If really he is Odysseus, truly home, beyond all doubt we two shall know each other better than you or anyone. There are secret signs we know, we two. (23.119-125) In Book Twenty-three, Penelope performs the “Test of the Bed” to determine if the alleged Odysseus is truly her husband. Penelope says: Make up his bed for him, Eurykleia . Place it outside the bedchamber my lord Built with his own hands. Pile the big bed With fleeces, rugs, and sheets of purest linen. (23.202-205) Because of this test, Odysseus began to think that Penelope stepped out on their marriage. This angered Odysseus, thus revealing his true identity to Penelope. Penelope is an extremely clever woman who could match Odysseus in his smarts. In the end, her cleverness is what saved her and her marriage. She is able manipulate the suitors in the absence of
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