Penelope, By Penelope And The Loyal Wife Essay

Penelope, By Penelope And The Loyal Wife Essay

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Penelope, in Homer’s The Odyssey, fills both the role of the seductress and the loyal wife. This paradox is evident through her relationship with her suitors and her husband, Odysseus. Penelope entices her suitors in case she has to remarry in the future and also she inveigles them into giving her gifts. Penelope simultaneously distances herself from the suitors, delaying them while she waits for her husband to return home. Penelope uses her sexuality, the way that she sensually presents her body and her femininity, to manipulate men’s attraction to her. She maintains the suitors’ attraction both by flirting with, and withholding, intimacy and marriage from them. Throughout The Odyssey, Penelope employs her sexuality as a strategic tool, for her own benefit.
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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