Clytemnestra and Penelope Analytical Essay by JPWrite

Clytemnestra and Penelope
A comparison between the characters of Clytemnestra from Aeschylus' "Agamemnon" and Penelope from Homer's "Odyssey."
# 67093 | 900 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2006 | US
Published on Jun 27, 2006 in Literature (Greek and Roman) , English (Analysis) , English (Comparison)

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This paper compares and contrasts two female characters from the Greek classics: Clytemnestra from Aeschylus' "Agamemnon" and Penelope from Homer's "Odyssey." The author shows how the lives of both characters are profoundly affected by the Trojan War and the absence of their husbands. However, the author also demonstrates how the two have completely opposite natures and motivations -- Clytemnestra's hate for Agamemnon and Penelope's love for Odysseus.

From the Paper:

"Penelope is the perfect match to Odysseus. Strong and determined, she has been hanging on to the hope that he will return to her one day. In the meantime, she has to make use of her intelligence to keep the suitors away from her and the throne. In an effort to protect her only son Telemakhos, she keeps the suitors' hopes of marrying her alive. She learns the ways of deceit as a means of survival. Smarter than the men who crowd her hall, she slips through their fingers with ingenious stratagems such as the weaving of the shroud and the bow competition. But her condition as a woman only allows her liberty of action to a certain extent. Even though her intelligence is enough to trick even the clever Odysseus as it is told in Book Twenty-three (the olive tree trunk bed), she knows that with the return of her husband her power is no more. As a woman, her will is accepted as long as it does not interfere with the male fancy. "This question of the bow will be for men to settle, most of all for me. I am master here" (Fitzgerald, 414), declares Telemakhos, neutralizing his mother's orders concerning the bow competition. Penelope does not question the limitations she has to accept because of her condition as a woman. She bows down to them, realizing that it is not for her to contradict a man's order. Penelope has never really wanted to ascend to the throne and govern Ithaca. It is the immediacy of the threat to Odysseus' power that pushes her to find a way to preserve what belongs to her man by right -- or, in this case, by marriage, since Odysseus has become ruler of the land by means of taking Penelope as his wife. Unlike Clytemnestra, whose ability to reign over Argos is admired and praised, Penelope is unable to maintain the order in Ithaca."

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