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In the story Homer’s Odyssey, Penelope is a trustful wife of Odysseus. Odysseus has been away for long a situation that leads many suitors coming to her in his absence. Due to the level of faith she has over his husband, she is able to keep them away. Fortunately, she is able to reunite with his husband upon his return from Trojan War. Normally, her name is commonly associated with maintaining trust in marriage. The story revolved among the early Greeks and Romans and was highly used to depict the amount of faith that one can develop for his suitor even in his long absence. Odysseus is also the King of Ithaca. However, he went to the Trojan War for ten years, leaving his family. He emerges as a winner and later he is able to go back home.
WHETHER SHE DOES OR DOES NOT KNOW THE BEGGAR IS ODYSSEUS
After the Trojan War, Odysseus disguises himself as an old beggar. He wanted to trick his wife and know whether she has been faithful. However, he comes into realization that her wife has been faithful all along for ten years. In order to evade the trap of sleeping with other suitors, she uses some tricks in order to delay their plan. One of the major tricks that she uses is that of pretending that she is weaving a shroud that was used for burial. This was meant for Odysseus's elderly father who was known as Laertes. Moreover, she claims that she will be in a position to choose a suitor when she has finished this task. However, this was just a trick that in deed worked until his husband returned. She used to work on this trick for three consecutive years. This was by making sure that she undoes some of the parts of the shroud. Thus, when the suitors come again, she is still on the task and has not finished. Unfortunately, Melanthoa, who was serving as one of the servicing women in this house comes into realization with Penelope’s plan. She goes ahead to disclose all the details to the suitors. This does not augur well with her as the suitor’s realizes that they have been tricked for long. Her main objective was to ensure that she did not remarry before she discovers the fate of his husband.
In the play, Penelope, is mainly symbolizes faithfulness in marriage. She is able to remain restless for ten years hoping that one day his husband will come back and they will reunite. She is able to develop resistance to large number of suitors and this bears her positive results as his husband finally comes back. She is a symbol of fidelity in marriage. She also does not chase the suitors away but rather, she devises a plan in order to ensure that she does not offend anyone. She respects her marriage and husband and his son. The writer says “she simply feels an unprecedented impulse to meet the men she so loathes” therefore, no matter the amount of persuasion that presents itself on his way, she is able to bear until the end, in deed she prefers to talk to Telemachus, for more advice on what she should do. She decides not operate at cross road but resolves to wait for his husband no matter the amount of time he may take. She is optimistic that one day, he is going to come.
When Odysseus returns disguised as a beggar, she is not able to identify him. In deed they engage into a long interview without having a tip that this was indeed the long waited husband. In the conversation, she talks about the issue of her remarrying one of the suitors. She is aware that his husband is a hero and expends good of him. In deed, she tells the disguised Odysseus that any suitor who will defeat his husband, she will agree to marry him. She says “whoever can string Odysseus's rigid bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axe shafts may have her hand”,. She was in full knowledge that no one would dare approach Odysseus and it was like cracking a nut to defeat such a hero. Thus, by this, she meant that she was indeed not ready to marry any of the suitors. She even tells Artemis to kill her that finding herself marrying any of the suitors.
Odysseus, the king of Ithaca is the main character in this play. His wife Penelope also plays a critical role as the wife of this protagonist. Boldly, Penelope says to the disguised Odysseus “For the plot of the Odyssey, of course, her decision is the turning point, the move that makes possible the long-predicted triumph of the returning hero”. This vividly shows her commitment to protect her marriage. A contest begins while still she is not aware that Odysseus, the long waited husband is one of the suitors who she had with him a long conversation. This is the contest of the bow. In the contest, Odysseus merges as a winner since none of the suitors was able to string the bow which was the condition of the game. Odysseus goes ahead to slaughter the suitors due to the anger she had over them. For example, Antinous had been drinking in his cup something that makes him furious and decides to start with him. It is hard for Penelope to believe that this is his husband. She cannot come into terms with the happening and thinks she is in a dream. By now, Odysseus has stopped the disguise and revealed his actuality as the real Odysseus. Indeed, it difficult to believe that his husband has retuned in such a disguised manner. In fact, she develops a belief that this might be a god who has disguised himself for the sake of putting her into a test.
Moreover, Penelope continues to test Odysseus so that she can finally believe that eh is really the husband. However, Odysseus, is able to note her plan and he was aware that by being told to move the bed into the wedding chamber, he was being tested whether he knew that the one of its legs was made of live tree hence could not move. This makes Penelope finally believe in deed this is the real husband that she has been for ten years been waiting for. As the debate continues, it is evident that by Penelope stating that the only man who will have her hand in marriage must be able to defeat Odysseus and take his bow, this is seen as another tactic that she had decide to use to ensure that her trick of delaying the suitors would still continue. She was aware that it is not easy to surpass the masculine of Odysseus by any man and take his bow. He was also the only person who could use the bow apart from Telemachus who was not among the suitors.
Indeed, Penelope stayed as an angel who did not want to associate herself with extra marital affairs that could have affected her marriage. She was a very strong woman and a woman of decision who was able to maintain her stand and not compromise her strong believe. It is beyond doubt that Penelope truly loved Odysseus and hence she could not stand betraying her marriage by any of the suitors. She maintained a strong believe which to many remained as a dream that after Odysseus went for the Trojan war, she could still be a live and come back. However, she had strong faith that he was alive and would come again. Many believed that Odysseus would never ever return to Ithaca. Her scheme ability helped her in a great way in maintaining her faith for such a long time. For example Penelope she stated to his suitors as long as she finished weaving the rug, she would by no doubt marry one of them. This was just a lie as the weaving never came into completion.
In his writings, Homer leaves the question of whether Penelope knows the disguised beggar that he is indeed Odysseus. From the story it is evident that Penelope does not really recognize at first that the beggar was Odysseus. It is until the contest where she comes into realization that he was the long waited Odysseus. In this case, the level of trust tat Penelope has over his husband is seen. Therefore, many Homeric scholars use Penelope and the beggar in addressing issues of recognition and the extent at which it can go.
Odysseus had developed fear that upon his long absence, it was easy for Penelope to fall into trap of infidelity. This was the main reason why he decided to disguise himself upon the completion of Trojan War and his return home. He had to disguise himself as a beggar to test the level of trust and faith that Penelope has maintained. Therefore, in the Homer’s odyssey woman are highly depicted as sexual objects who were ready to fall for anybody. However, Penelope proved them wrong as she was able to abstain for ten years when his husband was away.
Penelope does not know that Odysseus had been having romance with other women. Thus, despite the amount not of pressure that she receives from the suitors, she stays to her decision. Consecutively, she prefers to stay in bed and weep rather than see herself remarrying another man. Although Telemachus and Athena knew about what Odysseus was doing, they prefer not to tell her as this would greatly hurt her.
HOW EACH POSITION AFFECT HOW WE UNDERSTAND AND RESPOND TO PENELOPE
By the fact that Penelope does not recognize Odysseus, this leaves the reader with a different point of view and how we respond to what Penelope behaves and takes the matter at hand. In this case, Penelope is a woman who has been left lonely for long time. She develops a strong stand that she would rather die that have herself marrying another man. She maintains the belief that Odysseus his husband is still alive and one day he is going to come back. This gives a different view of Penelope. She is woman who highly esteems her marriage. She is not ready to compromise it at whatever cost. She has made resolution to abide to her man until he hears that he died. She is also respectful even to the gods. First, after Odysseus had won the contest, she developed a fear that this might be a god who had visited her to test her. This shows that she highly respected the gods of Athena. She has strong view in whatever happen s in is life. She is ready to give a second look before jumping into anything. This feeling had developed due to the long absence of his husband. She has spent many years with a string of suitors approaching her something that forced her to device tactics that she should use to maintain her stand and cause delays as she hopefully waited for the husband. Thus, she can also be associated as a symbol of hope. Her hope is beyond reproach which doe not wither with some days. It is true that keeping hope alive for such a long time is not easy. It needs a strong heart that can be seen in Penelope.
For many years, Penelope had been crying for his husband. The writer states that loneliness and emotions has been the order of the day as they had pervaded her life making it hard for her to live normally as it was before his husband went to war. Thus, she is in constant tears and fears that his husband could have died and may be she was just waiting to hear this awful news. In deed other characters in the play are affected by this situation of fear and loneliness that is brought about by the state of Penelope as other major characters revolves around her and the happenings in her life. Some of the characters are not even happy with her tricks of weaving the shroud and when they realize that it was a trick, they even go a step higher to inform the suitors that they have been played a fool. The desire to have Odysseus return home is high in the play. It can be seen through what the characters engages in. Moreover, he was their king who had just gone to war to fight for his people. Indeed Odysseus mother had died of loneliness of having not believing that his son might have died in the war. Little did Penelope know that Odysseus was happily living with other women especially in the island of Kirke. This is painful truth but luckily she is not aware of this. Thus, she has remained faithful throughout this period. After his return he is indeed not remorseful about his long absence and being unfaithful to his wife. However, Odysseus believe that for such a long time in was hard for any woman to remain faithful to his absent husband, thus, this had driven him to practice infidelity.
In this play, Homer pays great attention to infidelity in both women and men especially in their marriage. Thus, issues to do with remaining faithful to ones spouse even in his or her absence is central in the play. Nevertheless, Odysseus is depicted as being unfaithful whereas his wife has been being loyal and faithful to him. Thus, due to the fact that he had not been faithful, upon his return from the Trojan War, he decides to test the loyalty of his wife. In addition, he tests the level of loyalty to his servants. He goes a step ahead to even kill those servants who had not been faithful to him. This includes even the killing of all the suitors who were in the bid to take his wife away.