Essay: Odyssey Compare and Contrast Odysseus and Penelope

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Compare and contrast Odysseus and Penelope.

The main plot of the Odyssey is about the struggles of Odysseus. As, he is trying to find his way back to: Ithaca after defeating the Trojans in war. However, along the journey he is delayed by ten years and has trouble reaching home. This is because, different gods have ulterior motives or they are seeking revenge against him. At the same time, he is dealing with a number of issues that could have an impact on his life by not being able to quickly return. While Penelope, is patiently waiting for him to arrive, but is faced with the possibility that he may not be alive. This is because different individuals are continually telling her. That the long years of waiting have been for nothing and that if Odysseus did return it would have been by now. Yet, she does not lose faith and continues to maintain the belief that one day he will be coming back. This is significant, because it is illustrating how these two characters in the novel were in part of a conflict that was taking place between good and evil. As, both had to endure various challenges and the possibility that they may not see their one true love again in the future. To fully understand what is taking place and the underlying emotions that they were feeling requires: comparing Odysseus with Penelope. Once this occurs, it will offer specific insights about how their relationship and the bond that they have with each other influenced the plot of the novel itself. This is when there will be a greater appreciation for: the different ideas that are presented and how they represent a conflict that takes place in most people at some point in their lives. (Homer)

Odysseus vs. Penelope

In the Odyssey, Homer is using both Odysseus and Penelope to illustrate two different kinds of personas that are adding to the overall plot of the story. As far as the Odysseus is concerned, he is the hero of the novel. As, he illustrates various qualities that are considered to be most favorable attributes in Greek society to include: leadership, strength, nobility, courage, a quest for glory and confidence in the decisions that he is making. Evidence of these attributes can be seen in Book 9 when he is able to escape the cave of Cyclopse. This is important, because these attributes, are showing how Odysseus has the ability to use all of them. As, he is can: outwit the most cunning opponents that he is facing. A further example of this can be seen in Book 23, where he hides his slaughter by disguising himself during Penelope's wedding (after she thinks he is dead). These different elements are significant, because they are showing Odysseus is someone who is cunning and entertaining. This helps to make him a more likeable character. That is exemplifying the best of what Greek culture has to offer. (Homer)

At the same time, he is also an excellent speaker, who is able to persuade his audience about his different points-of-view. This is another ideal attribute in Greek society, as those individuals who have the ability to speak clearly and thoughtfully are viewed as highly intelligent. A good example of this can be seen when he begins speaking to Nausica on the island of Scheria. Where, he is able to persuade him to agree with his views during his speech and the points that he is making. This is important, because it is illustrating how in the novel Homer is using Odysseus to show that he has the ideal attributes of all Greeks. As a result, this adds to the plot by: making him to appear as if he is always in control and is capable of overcoming various challenges that he is dealing with. Once this takes place, he can be able to effectively form alliances and address a host of different problems on his way back home. This is when he has the power to choose his own destiny based on the actions that he has been engaging in. (Homer)

While Penelope, is a character that is representing a weaker part of Greek society (women). As, she is embracing various attributes that are considered to be undesirable to include: she is scatter brained, cannot think clearly and will often let emotions affect how she is reacting to a host of different situations. Evidence of this can be seen when Odysseus leaves her out of critical decisions surrounding their future and the journey he is about to begin. This is significant, because it is showing how these views had an impact on the way they would influence the actions that she takes in her life. (Homer)

Yet, at the same time, Penelope has one of the strongest characteristics within Greek society (loyalty). This can be seen with her undying love for Odysseus despite the fact that he has not returned for many years. As, everyone is encouraging her to: find someone else and move on with her life. However, she never losses the faith in him and keeps believing that he is alive. This is important, because it is illustrating how her loyalty is helping to guide her through the tough situations in her life. As, this is serving as a foundation, that is steering her actions despite the underlying levels of concern that she has about Odysseus. (Homer)

When you step back and analyze these different elements of her personality, it is clear that this is having a major impact on the way she reacts different events. Where, she believes what people are telling her, about him not coming back. While at the same time, she continues to have faith that the day will come that Odysseus will return. Throughout the novel, this creates a sense of personal conflict that she is going through. At which point, she decides that she should put the past behind her and buries the shroud. During the contest is when she determines, who will become the man that she will spend the rest of her life with. As she believes, that this test will give her someone that has the same kind of attributes as Odysseus. It is at this point that she discovers that the one person, who can do the same kind of feats as her husband, is in fact Odysseus. This is important, because it is showing how Penelope's loyalty, allowed her to hold on long enough that it enabled Odysseus to return. Yet, the fact that she did lose faith in the end is a sign of how some of the negative attributes are guiding her emotional decisions. As a result, she is a conflicted character that is troubled by a host of different emotions. (Homer)

When you compare the two characters with each other, it is clear that Odysseus has most favorable attributes in Greek society. Most notably: he is sure of himself, confident, strong, and an excellent communicator. These different elements are important, because they are showing how the combination of these factors helped him to overcome the various challenges that he faced on his journey home. As they served as a way, of comforting and allowing him to know that it is only a matter of time until he will be able to achieve his overall objectives. In many ways, one could argue that this is what is expected of men in Greek society. Where, they are supposed to be sure of themselves and the various decisions that they are making. (Homer)

While Penelope, was someone who was fragile and could easily be influenced based upon the various emotions that she was experiencing. Yet, at the same time she had tremendous amounts of faith and loyalty. These attributes allowed her to not be swayed by the comments of others about the status of Odysseus. However, they also create tremendous amounts of internal conflicts that she was going through. As, she wanted to be able to move on with her life, but she could not based upon her beliefs about her husband. As a result, one could effectively argue that she highlighting what many Greek women often endured. Where, they wanted to remain loyal to their husbands, but were influenced by outside sources to move on with their lives. (Homer)

These elements are important, because they are showing how in the novel. The two characters are complete opposites. As Odysseus, is strong and confident about the decisions that he is making. While Penelope, is confused and uncertain about what could happen. The only thing that she knows is that: she loves her husband and no one else can replace him. This is why she seeks out someone, who can perform similar kinds of feats as him when she believes he has died. At which point, she realizes that he is alive and will always be there for her. As a result, one could argue that these two characters and their… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Odyssey Compare and Contrast Odysseus and Penelope.  (2011, September 8).  Retrieved July 23, 2019, from

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"Odyssey Compare and Contrast Odysseus and Penelope."  8 September 2011.  Web.  23 July 2019. <>.

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"Odyssey Compare and Contrast Odysseus and Penelope."  September 8, 2011.  Accessed July 23, 2019.