Penelope is characterized as the ideal woman in the Odyssey. While she does display intelligence, she is primarily praised for her loyalty to her husband. In other words, for not taking a new husband.
The most complex female, more than any other female character in the Odyssey, is the wife of Odysseus, Penelope. From one perspective, she portrays the motherly-type or good wife characteristics, but from another view, she has traits, or certain feminine qualities, that expose her as being a type of seductress, as well. Other female characters shown to have the seductress qualities come about later in the Odyssey, such as Clymenstra. Penelope starts off as a mother in the story. Further along, she grabbed the attention of the suitors in the palace, showing them that she is mourning her lost love, in an obvious manner. There is a point in the story where one of the bards of the palace begins singing about the suicidal battles that took place; this lead her to assume that her husband, Odysseus, has, forever, vanished into the after-life and begins to publicly weep for him. Telemachus, Penelope’s son, and presumably heir to the throne, has to bring rise to his masculine presence and his sense of leadership to, finally, bring her back to her senses. Telemachas says to his
Loyalty is defined in Webster’s dictionary as unswerving allegiance, faithfulness. With this definition it can be expressed that loyalty plays a big role in Homer’s epic ‘the Odyssey’. Homer has presented three main characters that have shown loyalty to Odysseus. Penelope, the faithful wife, Telemachus, the son who has never met his father and lastly Eumaeus, the servant who has remained loyal to his master even when he was gone.
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.
In keeping with the idea that female characters play a supporting role in the story of a male protagonist, Homer makes a point to focus on Odysseus’ wife. Penelope is the model of
In The Odyssey, Homer portrays penelope as a loyal and faithful wife who’s waiting for his
With Penelope, a faithful and loving wife to Odysseus, Homer reveals to us how the Greeks believed wives should act. She was loyal to Odysseus the entire time he was away on his journey, and even when it appeared as if he had passed on she still had faith that he would return. She resisted the suitors on the sole basis that she loved Odysseus and could not see herself with another man when he could still be alive. She was smart, and cunning. She shows us this in Book II when we
Loyalty: Loyalty is most apparent in Penelope's resisting of the suitors, but it is a trait essential to all the characters in Odysseus' family. For twenty years Odysseus never stops wanting to return home. Telemakhos will not send his mother back to her father and force her to choose another husband. Instead, he sets out to find news of his father. The servants Eurykleia and Eumaios are also important exemplars of loyalty. Athena's devotion to Odysseus is another.
In The Odyssey, the theme of loyalty relates to Odysseus’s physical journey back to Ithaca. Many characters in the epic are loyal and faithful, like Penelope, Telemachus, Eumaeus, and even Odysseus himself. Penelope remains loyal to her husband, by not choosing a suitor during the 20 years he’s gone. “And there she [Penelope] sat down with the case on her knees and burst into sobs as she drew out her husband’s bow,” (Homer 317). Just carrying out Odysseus’s bow with such sorrow shows how in love she was with Odysseus and how the thought of choosing a new husband moved her to tears. As Penelope remained loyal to Odysseus and
I’ll never brace those men alone. I’d be too embarrassed” (18.207-210). Penelope remains faithful to her husband, even when his existence is doubted. She upholds the sanctity of marriage. She is ashamed to meet with her suitors and entertain the idea of selecting a new partner. Penelope wholeheartedly respects her marriage vows and her duty as woman and wife. Her loyalty is demonstrated further when she wishes death upon herself in order to escape her suffering: “Now if only blessed Artemis sent me a death as gentle, now, this instant – no more wasting away my life, my heart broken in longing for my husband” (18.229-232). Even after twenty years of suffering, Penelope continues to long for her lost husband. She would rather endure death than disrespect her marriage bed. Her unwavering love for and devotion to her husband represent the ideal wife. Penelope serves as the archetype for the “good” woman.
After Odysseus becomes enraged when Penelope asks the maid to make his bed outside, she realizes that he knows the secret that only Odysseus and her share. She embraces him and praises his homecoming. Once again, Penelope is wise and patient in her decision-making. The suitors pursued her, overtook her home and aggressively pushed her to remarry as she was supposed to. If Penelope would have given in, The Odyssey would not have ended with Odysseus returning to a loyal home. Through cunning, independence and loyalty, Penelope is able to create a positive image as a woman. Chaucer’s Wife of Bath has similar independence and cunning, but she makes her name as a domineering lady that chooses who she wants, and when she wants them.