Female Characters Of ' The Odyssey ' Essay

Female Characters Of ' The Odyssey ' Essay

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In the era of Homer, women played a very specific role in society, and even in literature. Women of this time were basically put in a box, and expected to never step out of line. If they did go against the arbitration of men, then they were faced with serious consequences. However, female characters play a huge role in both aiding, and delaying Odysseus’s journey home. I will proceed to analyze, and interpret the actions and intentions of every major female character in The Odyssey.
The first major female character that is introduced in this epic is Penelope. Penelope is the wife of Odysseus, and the mother of Telemachus. She is portrayed as a strong-willed widow, who even after not seeing Odysseus for twenty years, keeps her trust in her husband to return home. Penelope is faced with plenty of temptation in Ithaca while her husband is away. The family suitors constantly try to tempt and seduce her, due to the suitors’ greed for money and power to Odysseus’s throne. This is the outlook of the suitors that Penelope wants the people of Ithaca to have. Throughout the books, Penelope proves herself as highly emotionally intelligent. She has had the suitors wrapped around her finger for many years, by extending empty promises and flirtatious notions. Antinous, one of the suitors for Penelope, has a monologue explaining how Penelope is tempting the suitors. He says:
Laying the blame on us. It is not the suitors who are at fault, but your own mother, who knows more tricks than any woman alive. It’s been three years now, almost four, since she’s been toying with our affections. She encourages each man, leading us on, sending messages. But her mind is set elsewhere. (Homer 304)
Penelope is a staple in Ithaca, and is seen as royalty. She i...


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...urning home. He has many doubts and worries. The main worry being that his wife has not been faithful, and will not take him back in his home. Athena assures him:
Any other man come home from hard travels would rush to his house to see his children and wife. But you don’t even want to hear how they are until you test your wife, who, as a matter of fact, just sits in the house, weeping away the lonely days and nights. (Homer 514).
Homer’s female characters are very powerful beings in this epic. He shows how much the willpower, and loyalty of Penelope is rewarded in the end. Even the antagonist female character such as the temptress witch Circe has extreme power. She is able to turn Odysseus’s men into pigs, and entrance Odysseus into a year-long love affair. The theme of powerful women is reoccurring in Homer’s works, and I really enjoy that about reading his epics.

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