The story of Helen and Penelope in both works by Homer displays different destinies of the two most eminent heroines in terms of their participation in the development of actions shown in both books. In this respect it is necessary to admit that The Odyssey and The Iliad touch upon the same events which invoked one of the major conflicts in the history of mankind. The parallels are near to the characters in the book. The Trojan War was an epicenter of the conflict between Trojans and Greeks. Thereupon, it is vital to point out the roles taken to the most significant female characters in both books. The paper is intended to work out the differences and similarities in terms of both heroines’ traits of character and the description by Homer. The intentions which they invoke in a reader are significant for the analysis. No man’s participation in different kinds of activities can go without female intrusion and support.
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First of all, both books are performed in a sequential order, so that to show the events which provoked Trojan War, its development, and time after the war when Odysseus wandered with his soldiers. Helen and Penelope were both beautiful and gorgeous for their appearance looked like a projection of goddess to men who surrounded them. However, Penelope was associated with wisdom, and everyone addressing her uses the epithet “wise Penelope” (Homer, 2009, p. 233). Both women became victims of love and war. Here is a remark that the author of the books made emphasis on the similarity with war and love reflected in the characters of Helen and Penelope.
Their destinies are shown in a different coloring, though they were faithful toward their beloved men, Paris and Odysseus. In this respect both women are shown as able to love, but in case of Helen it is outlined that she left her real husband Menelaus for rather younger Paris. In case of Penelope her faithfulness was seen from the beginning to the end of the story. Moreover, her bonds with Odysseus were supported by their son Telemachus. Penelope and Helen followed the real call of their hearts and tried to do everything for making their love improved with the presence of their significant others. However, in case of Penelope such implementation of love was at a distance while she was waiting for Odysseus. Here love props up against the idea of a woman’s genuine nature to provide the continuation of generations along with her other half of life, meaning a man. In case of Helen love prospects are displayed in her great desire to be with Paris, notwithstanding the consequences of such “exodus”. In other words, she did it because she wanted to follow the intentions of Paris’s heart, first of all. Here the demonstration of how woman’s beauty can be depicted in her attitudinal framework toward lovely men. Both women were under protection of gods, and their destinies were analyzed above every now and then.
In the contrast analysis of both heroines it is vital to mention that the predominant feature of Penelope was wisdom. In respect to Helen it was beauty, when she was called “fair-tressed Helen” (Homer, 2007, p. 138). Helen intentionally chose the way of war for the sake of love. Penelope, on the other hand, urged for the piece, because she knew that further development of war could make her a widow, so she constantly believed in her husband’s being alive. Even in relation to Eurimachus she is intended to believe in Odysseus’s soon return from Troy. Helen is displayed as an object for adornment and she is addressed with an appropriate obeisance. She is gorgeous and it is not surprising that she is a symbol of a woman’s appearance. The whole story is an allegory of how women can affect men and what effects can be achieved, as a result. Penelope is a symbol of inner woman’s beauty, because she is one on whom Odysseus could rely and nurture hopes for their being together. Thus, she proved that limit of trust which was imposed on her, and, to say more, she is depicted as an etalon of a woman’s main features of character along with her capability to react to critical events, which were presupposed with the appearance of Odysseus. All in all, this character is shown to contradict the negative beginning of a woman. It is so due to her strive to be near Odysseus, and her husband could be near if only the war could be stopped. Thus, Penelope is a symbol of woman’s peace. On contrary, Helen was a stimulus for war. Her act gave birth to a huge and tremendous war. Because of her thousands of men’s lives were broken. It is also a symbol of another side of woman’s beauty which may lead to destruction. Nonetheless, it is not a ground to suppose that Helen is a negative character in the book.
To sum up, The Iliad and The Odyssey are the greatest examples of stories where the beauty of a woman is shown in its controversial nature. Characters of Helen and Penelope are shown with a mere extent of symbolic outline. Their destinies have many things in common. Their difference is imposed in their influence on the events in both books by Homer.
Homer. (2007). The Iliad. North Holston, Virginia: Wilder Publications.
Homer. (2009). The Odyssey. Telford: BiblioBazaar, LLC.
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