The character of Ulysses is very famous and it is mainly associated with two epics namely the Iliad and the Odyssey both these great epics were written by homer. Ulysses was a Greek king who went on an expedition in the later parts of his life leaving his kingdom, his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus all alone. His son was born just when he was about to leave for the Trojan War which was supposed to be a bloody battle. This paper will throw light upon the character of Penelope and the way she reacted in the absence of Ulysses to safeguard the kingdom against the suitors. A comprehensive analysis of her reactions will be presented in this paper.
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“Shrewd Penelope, has she heard you’re home?” (Homer, P1325, Vol 24). This quote shows that Penelope the faithful wife of Ulysses and she stood really strong in his absence. Women were known for the deeds of their sons and by their own deeds early on, Ulysses wanted his wife to be really faithful to him without looking at his own track record and Penelope certainly fulfilled this desire of Ulysses in his absence. Even though Ulysses goes on an expedition for many years, Penelope always spoke about him with respect and gratitude and the relationship between Ulysses and Penelope form the base of the story, the whole story revolves around these two most important characters. Women have always taken a back seat in most of the early stories but Ulysses is a bit different from the other stories, Penelope stands all alone protecting the kingdom of Ulysses changes the whole image of women taking a back seat.
Penelope could have easily married some suitor and the kingdom would have gone to the suitor but she did not do this in order to ensure that she protects the kingdom of her husband even in his absence and she stood by his wishes, he wanted her not to get married and she did exactly the same. “What good sense resided in your Penelope” (Homer, P1306, Vol 24). She waited for twenty long years for her husband to come back, this clearly goes to show that she was a woman of character and self control, had it been any other woman, she would have surely failed to resist the temptation of getting married again. She had a lot of persistence and composure, her image had been overshadowed because of Ulysses, and this is because he is the protagonist in the play and the contribution of his wife Penelope has never come to the limelight. It is very fair to say that she never gets the appreciation that she deserves because of the overshadowing nature of the character of Ulysses.
“What other wife could have a spirit so unbending?” (Homer, P1268, Vol 23).This quote from the book goes to show her faithfulness and her thoughtful attitude, she decides to protect the kingdom against all odds and she succeeds in doing so, the Poem is also about the struggle of Ulysses and Penelope to get back together after twenty years of long gap.Penelope wove during the day to keep her suitors at bay and removed it at night so as to buy herself some time. She certainly succeeded in keeping all her suitors at bay and in protecting the kingdom in the absence of the king for twenty long years. Penelope’s loyalty has been discovered by the people off late and she features in many paintings, poems, prose etc.
“After bearing twenty years of brutal struggle.” (Homer, P1268, Vol 23). Penelope’s character is personified with the help of this by Robert; she has redefined the term ideal wife. She was consistently persistent in protecting the territory of her husband. She faced many challenges but she overcame every challenge and proved herself against all odds. One of the biggest challenges for her was to keep the suitors at a distance and she did so by coming up with a trick which worked perfectly in her favour. The book gives an impression that women are valued much less than men but Penelope’s character forces the readers to think over this statement. Penelope shows no desperation in spite of the absence of her husband for twenty long years, this is immaculate control personified by Robert in the book. Had it been any other woman, she would have broken down and married a suitor and faced devastating circumstances but she did not do so, earning the respect of the readers. Women are personified as the objects of lust in the book but the character of Penelope is extremely different and unique. The extraordinary zest displayed by Penelope in protecting her husband’s kingdom becomes the highlight of the book and many more characters have been inspired by the character of Penelope and even more will be inspired by this extraordinary character.
Fagles Robert. The Odyssey. P 1325 Vol 24.
Fagles Robert. The Odyssey. P 1306 Vol 24.
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Fagles Robert. The Odyssey. P 1268 Vol 23.
Fagles Robert. The Odyssey. P 1268 Vol 23.