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The character Penelope in the the Odyssey. I have read the story but am having trouble...

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jfans | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 8, 2010 at 9:39 PM via web

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The character Penelope in the the Odyssey. I have read the story but am having trouble understanding her role. Can you help describe her?

I want to include information about her appearance, words repeated to describe her, her heritage and family history. Items that would be associated with her character, such as the weave. Her ethics and values, choices made, wisdom of actions. Her quests, motivation, complications. Her effects on others. Changes in her during the course of the story. Her strengths and weaknesses...

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 8, 2010 at 10:12 PM (Answer #1)

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Penelope is a fairly strong and round character in Homer's work.  I think that the most overwhelming characteristic she possesses is fidelity.  Simply put, she remains loyal to her husband.  While it has been an absence of over 20 years, she does not take another husband in recognition of her original and true partner.  She is a strong woman, as Homer depicts her as not excessively maudlin about the past relationship and her husband's absence.  Rather, she is focused on ensuring that Telemachus is strong enough to be his own adult, and very aware of how others might perceive her.  In the scene with all of the suitors, she knows that this "visitor" is unique and distinctive and mentions the bed in order to reveal the truth.  The elements of truth, loyalty, and care are the attributes that emerge the most from Penelope through Homer's description.

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dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted January 9, 2010 at 8:50 AM (Answer #2)

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Penelope is to Odysseus as Odysseus is to his destiny, in other words Homer created two sides of the same coin.  Penelope waits for her husband's return and to do so must use, adapt, and incorporate all measures necessary to stop all would be potential husbands, thus following her destiny.  Odysseus too is mired in distraction, however he will follow his destiny.  The resolve of both characters through thick and thin is what binds them together.  Homer developed Penelope as a mirror reflection of Odysseus even though their journey's were very different.  While Odysseus faces tremendous hardships he does enjoy the favor of Calipso for a time his thoughts always wander to Penelope. At the same time Penelope is left to fight off suitors and endure physical isolation. Homer presents a timeless odyssey, all we have to do is place our names in the story.

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