Women In The Odyssey Essay, Research Paper
The literature composed during the era when the Odyssey was written was directed by men. Woman characters were valued but the only participated in affairs when they had the permission of men. The men, for the most part, directed the women’s lives. The themes used in literature were on the subjects that men would be interested in; combat; warriors, and rulers. Domestic affairs, for the most part, were not noted. There is a immense contrast between the Odyssey and other epic poetry of the period. There are several women characters in the Odyssey. All of them add to plot in significant ways and they are also treated with admiration. The women of the poem change the lives of the gods and men, and how they link in significant ways to one another.
Penelope, the wife of Odyssues, is the perfect wife and mother. She is also independant and intelligent. Penelope’s character is Homer’s model of the ideal woman. She worries when her son Telemachos sails to locate his father and grieves over the absence of her husband. Many times throughout the poem Penelope cries herself to sleep, yearning for information of her husband’s welfare. Even after nearly twenty years of absence, Penelope still praises of her husband. At any time Penelope could have married one of the suitors and provided a father figure for her son. This fact demonstrate
Penelopes loylaty to her husband. . Standing before the suitors, Penelope announces that whoever among them can string the bow and shoot an arrow through the twelve axes will win her hand. At first reading, one may be surprised that Penelope will give up hope for
the return of her husband, however, Penelope knows that Odysseus’s bow was a gift from a god, and Odysseus’s strength was unmatched by any mortal. Although Penelope may not have absolute power without her husband, her cleverness gives her some space to distance herself from the suitors and to remain loyal to her husband. Athen, the goddess, has intelligence and independent through the entire poem. Athena also has compassion for Odysseus, devising the plan to help him return home because she feels sorry for him. Athena also guide Telemachus on his journey. “You will not lack either courage or sense in the future, Telemachus, for we see now that there is a drop in you of your fathers fine spirit. …. There is hope for the future and I tell you that you will succeed.” She guides Telemachos and Odysseus when they take revenge on their house. Calypso’s trait is vanity, and she keeps Odysseus captive for seven years in order to fulfill
her selfish desires. Despite her efforts and hospitality, Odysseus still longs for home as he sits each day by the rocky shore. After Hermes brought the message that Calypso must release Odysseus, Calypso tries to persuede Odysseus to stay. “..if you could only know how much suffering is in store for you before you get back to your own country, you would stay where you are, keep house along with me, and let me make you immortal, no matter how anxious you may be to see this wife of yours…Yet I flatter myself that I am no whit less tall or well-looking than she is, for it is not to be expected that a mortal woman should compare in beauty with an immortal.” The actions of one figure, the man-eating monster named Skylla, are particularly
interesting when viewed in the context of the rest of the story. Though her contribution to the plot is minor, Skylla’s actions are important. Skylla plays the role of the latter, as do Clypso, Kirke, and the Seirenes. Although none of these women actually harm Odysseus,
each poses a deadly threat to him on his voyage. Odysseus’s experience with Skylla is by far the most deadly and disturbing. Whereas the other women succeed only in enticing and delaying the crew, the encounter with Skylla has lethal consequences. Even though he decides to take the sea route that passes near her lair, it seeming to be the least dangerous of the three options, he wants nothing to do with the monster. Yet, instead of passing unscathed, six of his men are taken as the boat sails through the channel.
In The Odyssey, Homer introduces many female characters; some play significant roles, some are in the background. Regardless of their importance, distinctions can be made as to their roles in the story: that is, some put forth effort to help Odysseus and the
other men Arete, Athena, Nausikaa, and Eurykleia are examples and others lead to the delay or destruction of them.