Analyzes how masculinities and femininities are portrayed in The Odyssey?
How did male characters think and speak about female characters (human and/or divine)? How do the males treat female characters? How do the female characters treat the males?
That's a tall order. How about we just focus on the two central male and female characters, Penelope and Odysseus?
Penelope is fiercly loyal to her long-absent husband. Despite the pressure from many suitors, she cleverly puts them off with her embroidery scheme. When Odysseus comes to her in disguise, she reveals just how much she loves and is loyal to him. She says,
"Stranger, my beauty went forfeit to the Gods the day my Husband sailed with the Argives, for Troy. Should he return,
to cherish me, my fortune and favour would improve. As it is, Heaven afflicts me too sorely. All the island Chiefs court me uninvited, and ravage the Estate: While I neglect my guests, the suppliants that come, and even Heralds on a mission, to eat my heart out for Odysseus."
Odysseus longs for home and Penelope is largely the resaon why he tries so stridently to return for so many years.Women are enjoyed for their charms and sexual favors but they do not have Odysseus's heart as does his wife.
He treats men according to how well they live up to his own high standards of loyalty, bravery, and tenacity. Those who fall short are dealt with severly; those who are true are rewarded. Telemachus fulfills his father's expectations; the suitors are slaughtered.