Portrayal of Women in Homer's Odyssey

704 Words3 Pages
The Portrayal of Women in Homer's Odyssey In the first section of Odyssey, mortal women are presented to us as controlled by the stereotypes and expectations of the culture of the day, and it is only within that context that we can consider the examples Homer provides of women to be admired or despised. He provides us with clear contrasts, between Penelope and Eurycleia on the one hand, and Helen and Clytemnaestra on the other. In Penelope’s case, it is made clear that her freedom of action is strictly controlled. Antinous feels free to advise Telemachus that as Odysseus is assumed dead, it is expected that Helen will choose another husband, or her father should do so for her. Telemachus does not challenge the logic of this, merely attacks the suitors’ behaviour and questions whether Odysseus is dead. And so Penelope is reduced to using the passive and ‘feminine’ defences of keeping the suitors waiting for a decision, and resorting to the subterfuge of weaving and unweaving her loom daily. We also witness Penelope being ‘put in her place’ by Telemachus when she comes do...
Open Document