Penelope uses her sexuality to manipulate the men around her, for her own gain and protection. Penelope’s husband, Odysseus, is lost at sea for upwards of twenty years, leaving his island home of Ithaka unstable and without a clear leader. In his absence, suitors from neighboring islands swarm Ithaka vying for Penelope’s affection. More significantly, the suitors want to control Ithaka, looking to usurp Telemakhos’ role as heir (Homer I. 434-437). Though Penelope dislikes the lustful suitors and their desire for power, she seduces them for her own benefit. She leads them to believe that she is romantically interested in them, as the suitor Antinoos explains, “holding out hope to all, and sending promises / to each man privately- but thinking otherwise” (Homer II. 98-99). Penelope indulges the suitors’ desires, alluding to the possibility of sex and marriage with her charming words and promises. By maintaining the men’s attention in her husband’s absence, Penelope optimizes h...
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... manipulation of her suitors is in reaction to her unfortunate situation. Without knowledge of her husband’s whereabouts, she faces being forced to marry another man. For this reason, Penelope both seduces her suitors and avoids them. She acts this way because she is trying to prepare for her future whether it be with or without Odysseus. She entices the suitors in case her husband never comes home and also in order to receive their gifts. Conversely, she delays them for years, to avoid a marriage, hoping that her husband will one day return. By toying with the suitors’ attraction, Penelope cunningly plays both a dedicated wife and a temptress. Additionally, by manipulating the suitors, Penelope is able to control her life in a society that renders her powerless. Using her sexuality, Penelope weaves her own destiny just as skilfully as she weaves the funeral shroud.
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