The Role of Woman in The Odyssey

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Although “The Odyssey” by the Greek poet Homer is very much an epic tale of a man’s heroic quest, women play an incredibly large role. Homer’s epic tale, “The Odyssey” revolves around Ulysses’ quest to return back to his wife, Penelope, so that he may be reunited with her and assume control over his palace, which has been overrun by suitors. Ulysses’ son, Telemachus attempts to regain authority in the presence of the many suitors but finds this difficult and embarks upon his own journey under the guidance of Athena and other deities. The main thrust of Homer’s “The Odyssey” centers upon the adventures of Homer as he endeavors to get back home, which he finally does. He overtakes the suitors through his cunning and the tale ends happily.…show more content…
While mourning for her husband (which the reader can only assume is sincere) Penelope is also leading on these suitors in order to gain material objects. She promises that she will marry one of them once she finishes her sewing her wedding veil, but each night she destroys the previous night’s work so that the task will never be accomplished. Even if she is using this ruse to attain riches, the fact remains that she is still acting as a seductress. She is very much like a Siren, typical of those present in Book XI, always singing out to encourage men but not intending to fulfill any promise of love or sex. Penelope presents both sides of the two distinct divisions of women characters in the text. Although the Sirens and Circe represent the ultimate seductress, it is important to notice the way the story of Agamemnon and Clymenestra reappears in the text. This is a legend told about how the strong female character Clymenestra was, much like Penelope, dogged by suitors in her husband’s absence, the only difference being that Clymenestra gives over the temptation of one suitor in particular and she and this new lover plot to kill Agamemnon upon his glorious return. The description of Clymenestra almost seems to echo Penelope’s situation as Ulysses is told the story. “At first she would have
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