Topics in Lit
1 October 2012
Penelope: The Odyssey’s Other Hero
When you think about The Odyssey, one name should come to mind, and that name is Odysseus. He’s the obvious hero of this story. However, his wife Penelope is just as much a hero as he is. She is a hero because she waited for her husband’s return and she took care of the house while he was away. Although Penelope’s whole hero journey is not told to the audience, you can see the similarities about what their journeys by what is said. These two characters are very clever. Determination and persistence are two qualities that Odysseus and Penelope share. All Odysseus wants is to return home to his kingdom, wife, and son. All Penelope wants is for her husband to return home and their family to be reunited. They are both strong willed leaders and loyal to those they care about and those who work for them. They are generous in their daily actions.
Penelope is very clever and plans long term just like Odysseus did. Odysseus is clever when he meets the Cyclops and tells him his name is Nobody. Once he and his men stab him in his eye, Polyphemus starts screaming “Nobody’s killing me now by fraud and not by force!” (Fagles 224).Polyphemus was once told of a prophecy that a man named Odysseus would kill him. By telling the Cyclops that his name was Nobody, this long term plan kept Odysseus and his crew alive a few days longer. Penelope is clever too when she comes up with the shroud plan. Her husband has been gone for over twenty years and the people of Ithaca want a new king. Penelope is slowly starting to give up hope that her husband will return one day. While they’re suitors in her palace trying to win over her heart, she tells them she cannot marry until she has weaved a shroud in Odysseus’s honor. What the suitors don’t realize is that she undoes all of the progress she’s made for that day, so that the shroud will never be finished and she won’t have to remarry any of these men. This long term plan is buying herself time.
When Odysseus returns as the beggar and Penelope figures it out she comes up with a clever plan. She tells the suitors that whoever can string Odysseus’s bow and shoot it through twelve arrows will win her heart (Fagles 426). The audience is shown how clever she truly is. Her perceptiveness has helped her to figure out that Odysseus is the beggar. She knows that if he can string the bow he can win her back and have a fair shot at fighting the suitors.
Odysseus and Penelope are both strong willed leaders and very loyal. Penelope has the opportunity to remarry but chooses to believe that one day her husband will return, even though it’s been twenty years. She chooses to remain loyal. She shows her strong willed personality by taking care of the house while her husband is away. She also raises her son as a single mother and simultaneously takes care of her kingdom. She has disloyal servants and yet she still remains loyal to them. This mirrors Odysseus’s loyalty when he personally goes after his crew to save them from becoming addicted to the islands locus.
Another heroic trait that Penelope has is her generosity. When Odysseus was disguised as the beggar, Penelope took a special interest in him. You can only imagine how many beggars came to her home daily. She was always generous to them by feeding them, but after they were finished they’d leave. Odysseus however received special treatment. She has a meeting with him. She tells her maid, Eurycleia, “…wash the stranger and make his bed, with bedding, blankets and lustrous spreads to keep him warm…” (Fagles 400). Her generosity shows her kind hearted spirit.
Penelope has endured a lot of hardship just like her husband has. Both of these characters heroic journeys had many similarities. They were leaders and they were loyal. They were clever in their strategic planning. She is a women but she is a strong leader and a ruler. She is strong willed but shows her soft side. This is what makes Penelope such a good hero. She is relatable to the audience no matter what the gender.
Essay about Strong Penelope of Homer's Odyssey
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The Strong Penelope of The Odyssey
"My lady, there is no man in the wide world who could find fault with you. For your fame has reached broad heaven itself, like that of some illustrious king."(Page 289,Book 19)
In Homer's epic, The Odyssey, Odysseus is an epic hero with an epic wife, Penelope. Penelope is also the Queen of Ithaca, a vital role indeed. Penelope's love and devotion towards Odysseus is proven when she waits nineteen years for her husband to return from the wine dark sea, rather than losing faith and marrying another man. Penelope's character is strong and solid, and her personality remains consistent throughout Homer's Odyssey.
Since there are so few mortal women featured in The Odyssey, Penelope can be seen as an…show more content…
Penelope is also shown to have been very sought after, by the band of suitors that inhabit Odysseus's palace in Ithaca while he is away. All the while Odysseus is away; suitors are constantly trying to force Penelope to choose one of them as her new husband.
Penelope is also important because she (along with Telemachus) is the main reason for Odysseus to return home. Odysseus shows his great love and determination when goddess Calypso offers him immortality (Book 5) on the condition that he remains on Ogygia as her husband. At Odysseus's first opportunity he builds a raft and sails away, leaving the lonely Calypso behind. When he reaches Phaeacia, he is then offered the hand of King Alcinous daughter, Nausicaa, who must have been beautiful because Odysseus had mistaken her for the goddess Artemis on first site. Instead Odysseus wished to return to Penelope.
Penelope has a very complex and interesting character. For example her determination to wait and to mislead the suitors for so long shows that she had great intelligence and perseverance. Penelope's wit is acknowledged in this quote from Antinous "For all the Achean beauties of former times, none had at her command such wits as she."(Page 20, Book 2). Penelope's wit is also shown in her scheme to mislead the suitors by saying that they must wait for her to weave a shroud for Odysseus's father Laertes. She told them