Women in The Odyssey by Homer

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Female Power in The Odyssey Throughout time women have had to fight hard for respect and the rights that come with it. Many societies have potrayed women as second class citizens, teaching that they should be subservient to men. There have been those who have spent entire lifetimes working to break beyond the traditional concepts of women and power. It is very challenging, however, for the sex to achieve higher status, when a society teaches not to speak out or against men’s wishes. How can one try to express a more enlightened view when he or she is not allowed a voice with which to make it? In The Odyssey, Homer shows the reader an ancient Greek society where women are given specific roles and are often underestimated simply because of gender. Characters, such as Penelope, who keeps quiet at the epic’s beginning about her wishes for the suitors to leave, and Odysseus’ nurse, who obediently washes his feet, are examples of the chauvinist mind set. Despite the unfairness of the period in which the story takes place, certain women try in their own way to rise above the binds of tradition and show feminine power. In The Odyssey, through cunning manipulation and plotting three women stand their ground in individual protests to get what they want; Penelope’s trickery in evading the impatient marriage proposals by suitors, Helen’s deceit over Menelaos during the Trojan War, and finally the control that Nausicaa seems have upon first meeting Odysseus each illustrate power possessed by females of the epic. At the Epic’s beginning the reader finds Penelope, Odysseus’ wife in Ithica facing the pressure of suitors who wish her hand in marriage. Despite the fact that her husband has been gone for twenty years, she holds true to her husband’s memory and refuses to remarry. At first glance her situation seems hopeless. The men have moved into her home, taking complete advantage of her husband’s land and riches, eating his prize livestock, and drinking his finest wine. Penelope is however in control, carefully plotting against her rude guests. It has been said that one must keep their friends close and their enemies closer. She does just that, by keeping the suitors in her home for three years in order to later seek vengeance: Here is an instance of her trickery: she had a great loom standing in the hall and the fine warp of some vast fabric on it;
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