Penelope in “Odyssey” by Homer

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Penelope’s husband was absent at Troy. Penelope informs the suitors that they must wait until she has finished weaving a shroud for Laertes to marry again. During the day, she weaves and at night she undoes all her days work still convinced her beloved husband will return. The painting “Penelope & the Suitors” and the poem “Penelope” portrays faithfulness. In this paper, I am going to illustrate how the theme of love is shared between the painting and the poem in different ways.

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The poem is a portrayal of the dominance and subjugation of the great deeds of the woman. It also is the illustration of the wife whose efforts are ignored. In the poem, it shows how Penelope does her household work and remains faithful and loyal to her husband by keeping the suitors away.

This poem reflects on the pathos of the wife Penelope as she stays at home. It also explains the hardships that Penelope went through while her husband was away. Dorothy Parker used the perspective of Penelope to describe all about Odysseus’ journey home on his ship. Exaggerations and personifications were used to describe the peacefulness of the voyage. The poem has much imagery to allow the reader to visualize actions.

Penelope speaks the qualities of her husband as the brave, intelligent, and versatile Odysseus. The shift from talking about Odysseus, to Penelope and back to Odysseus in the poem, is making it seem like Odysseus is more important than Penelope. “They will call him brave” (Parker) means that people remember Odysseus’ accomplishments and not about Penelope and what heartbreak and struggles she went through back at home. One of Penelope’s idea was to “snip her thread” (Parker) and pretend to weave a burial shroud to restrain the suitors until her husband came home.

Dorothy Parker was born on August 22, 1893, in West End, near Long Beach, New Jersey. She died on June 7, 1967, in New York. She was a short-story writer and poet known for her witty remarks. She was one of the founders of the Algonquin Round Table. She attended Miss Dana’s School in Morristown, New Jersey, and the Blessed Sacrament Convent School, New York City. She worked with the editorial staff of Vogue magazine in 1916 and the next year moved to Vanity Fair as a drama critic. In 1917, she married Edwin Pond Parker II, whom she divorced in 1928, but she retained his last name in her professional career.

Dorothy Parker became a freelance writer in 1920 after being discharged from Vanity Fair for the harshness of her drama reviews. Her first book “Enough Rope,”” was a best-seller when it came in 1926. In 1927, Parker became book reviewer, for The New Yorker magazine. In 1929, she won the O. Henry Award for the best short story of the year with” Big Blonde.” By 1933, she and her second husband Alan Campbell went to Hollywood to collaborate as film writers.

John William Waterhouse was born on April 6, 1849, in Rome, Italy. He died on February 10, 1917, in London, England. He was referred to as “Nino” throughout his life. English painter of the Victorian era known for his large-scale paintings of Classical mythological subjects. He pursued sculpture at the Royal Academy in London in 1870. He later switched to painting in 1874. His paintings were known for their rich and glowing color.

James Waterhouse produced works of the mythical and literary themes throughout the 1890s and 1900s. His style and field went out of vogue with the Modern trends of the turn of the 20th century. “Penelope & the Suitors” was painted in 1912. The style of the painting is Romanticism. The genre is mythological painting. He brought broad handling and loose brushwork.

Odysseus is a Greek king. Penelope is the daughter of Icarius. She is also first cousin of Helen of Troy. Odysseus was delayed 10 years to return from the Trojan War. During those 10 years without Odysseus, Penelope was left alone with their son, Telemachus.

Dorothy Parker was an alcoholic. A drinker with a writing problem. She became pregnant at 42 only to miscarry a few months later. She attempted suicide twice. Dorothy was found dead of a heart attack at age 73. The painter of “Penelope & the Suitors” James William Waterhouse, last ten years of his life were overshadowed by illness. He died of cancer at 68.

The theme that has been illustrated both in the poem and painting is love. In the painting it shows how faithful Penelope is. She continues to weave when the suitors want to marry her and she just honestly loves her husband and wants him back. In the poem it shows how Penelope does her household work and still continues to remain faithful and loyal to her husband by keeping the suitors away.

We can conclude the painting and poem portrays the subjugation and domination of the deeds of a woman. Love is true when there is faithfulness even when there is destruction over time. Penelope was known for her faithfulness to her husband. She praises Odysseus for all her deeds.

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Penelope in "Odyssey" by Homer. (2020, Mar 29). Retrieved from