What does Ulysses think of his wife?

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Ulysses gives the impression that he's as bored with his "aged wife" as he is with all other aspects of his kingly life. Penelope reminds him just how old he is and how far away he is from that golden youth of heroism and adventure. There's more than an element of misogyny in Ulysses's lamentations. He gives the impression that a life of wedded bliss is no such thing—that marriage saps what little energy he has left. The only real life for a man, it would seem, is a life away from his wife. A real life is one spent on the high seas in pursuit of new worlds and new horizons.

In Ancient Greece, women were forced to occupy very limited roles in society; their lives were largely restricted to home and hearth. Ulysses's complaints about his life of stultifying domesticity could be said to express fears that, as well as losing his energy so long as he remains at home with Penelope, he's also losing his masculinity. Essentially, he's becoming feminized. For a noble Greek warrior like Ulysses, that's a humiliation too hard to bear. The only conceivable way he can regain his masculinity is by leaving Penelope behind to embark upon yet another epic voyage.

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The short answer to this question is that Tennyson's Ulysses doesn't like his wife at all. A more specific answer would be that, for Ulysses, Penelope is a personification of everything that he hates about infirmity and domestic exile.

Though Tennyson only mentions Penelope once (Ulysses dismisses her as "an aged wife" [3]), much can be read into her presence in the poem. All in all, the poem discusses the anguish of growing old, losing one's strength, and having to relinquish the glorious adventures of youth. Ulysses' wife Penelope is a representation of Ulysses' frustration with domestic life and growing old. She is both a symbol of old age and a symbol of home, and so she is a perpetual reminder for Ulysses that, rather than struggling with the gods on "the ringing plains of windy Troy" (17), he is old and bored and confined to Ithaca, reduced to nothing more than nostalgic longing. As such, though she does not have a large direct part to play in the poem, Penelope represents the fundamental conflict of Tennyson's text.

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