I have been asked to write a paper on whether or not Penelope's actions are traditional or may be seen as feminist in nature. Any opinions for either side would be greatly appreciated!
I personally do not see Penelope as being a feminist at all. She stays faithful to Odysseus all those years he's away at the war, then all those years he's on his way back, never knowing if he will even return to her. She remains at home, allowing the suitors to run rampage over her home and land (though I don't suppose she had much choice as they were rather determined to be there!), and feeds them a cock-and-bull story about weaving a shroud for Laertes, her father-in-law, that, upon its completion, will mean she's ready to choose a suitor. Of course she unravels it every night to make sure it never gets finished!
What I'm getting at here is that being a clever woman who can fool a bunch of suitors doesn't make her a feminist. She is a traditional wife and mother - devoted to her son and to her husband who could be dead, as far as she knows - and honestly, she just doesn't seem like the bra-burning type (even if they had had bras back then)! :)