Female Ambiguity

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Female Ambiguity: Kirke from The Odyssey vs. Bianca from The Taming of the Shrew Women are ambiguous characters throughout texts such as The Odyssey and The Taming of the Shrew. In these two stories, there are female characters that are deceitful and beguiling towards men. Kirke and Bianca are two comparable characters that display such behavior. I will explain how both characters display ambiguity by hiding their true nature behind actions that they wouldn’t normally take; therefore these female characters are being deceitful to those who fall for their actions. Kirkie displays her obscure behavior at the point of The Odyssey when some of Odysseus’s crew is sent up to Kirke’s hall. When the men lay eyes on her she is weaving on her loom. Kirke’s weaving is a domesticated action to the crew of Odysseus’ men who witness it. Before the men see her the carnivorous mammals at her entryway that seem to be under her spell intimidate them. Kirke’s weaving alone is not what enticed the men to her, yet it was her singing which was described as beguiling, that made the men believe she was an angel. “Low she sang in her beguiling voice, while on her loom she wove ambrosial fabric sheer and bright, by that craft known to the goddesses of heaven.” (Homer 171) This action of weaving and singing gains the trust of the weary men who then wish to approach her. The sirens also sing. Somehow with female singing men lose their rational thoughts and become hypnotized by the sound. Weaving is an action used at least by one other female character, Penelope that deceives a large group of men into thinking that the female is harmless and domestic. In this story all the females that sing use it as a lure of the men and it works every time, however the waving trick didn’t work so well for Penelope and her secret of unraveling a shroud she would spend all day weaving was discovered. The crewmen in this part of the story see Kirke singing on the loom and it strikes their hearts and they seem to narrowly forget about the wolves and lions at her entrance only to see her young beautiful image as a fine woman. Polites, one of Odysseus’ crewmen broke the silence held by the men to assure them that this womanly duty Kirkie performs makes her seem harmless and that they should not hide away from her.
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