Portrayal of Women in The Odyssey

Essay by pisces_009Junior High, 9th gradeA+, May 2004

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In Homer's Odyssey, the women are portrayed in many different ways, some are said to be wise while others are cruel, but many are treated differently from the opposite gender. One of the women in the story, Penelope, was portrayed as very wise but because of her gender she was expected to obey many of the men. Similarly to Penelope, Arete, queen of the Phaeacians, was equally wise but was viewed almost as an equal to the men. In contrast to the other two women, Melantho was very malicious and was treated similarly to the men in the end of the book.

To begin, Penelope was considered to be extremely wise, but was expected to listen and comply with many of the men. To avoid becoming married, Penelope used her wisdom to devise a trick to keep the Suitors from forcing her to choose one of them. In book two, it is stated, "…she began weaving a large and delicate piece of work…for Lord Laertes…by day she used to weave at the great web, but every night had torches set beside it and undid the work."

This clearly shows that she was cleverer than the Suitors, and also that she applied her wisdom for her family's benefit. However, despite her wisdom Penelope, because of her sex, was expected to obey many people of the opposite gender. This is proven in book 21 when it says, "'As for the bow, mother,' shrewd Telemachus interposed… 'is the men's concern, and mine above all; for I am the master in this house…so go to your quarters now and attend to your own work'…" This shows that Penelope was required to obey most men, including her own son who was still too young to take over Odysseus' position in the house. Clearly, although...