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    Penelope as the Master of Keeping of Heart in Odyssey, a Poem by Homer

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    Penelope is a mistress of her own heart as she proves to be a true protector of it by not trusting others as easily and even performing clever ruses. One can be in possession of their own heart if they take care of it and shield it from being harmed. By doing so, one is in full control, therefore having their heart in their possession. Penelope used to be a very trusting person, believing all the false prophets and their incorrect updates on Odysseus’s wellbeing.

    The prophets used Penelope’s overflowing love and dedication to her husband as an upper hand. In the end, Penelope was tricked and taken advantage of as what the prophets said were false. Having her heart damaged by false information led to her safeguarding her heart more. Learning from her mistakes, Penelope began to question the veracity of many things and began to perform many ploys in order to guard her heart.

    Penelope no longer wants to have her hopes raised just to have them fall so she began to not trust others and what they say as easily as she used to. Upon receiving news of Odysseus’s return in Book 23, Penelope is very skeptical, telling her maids to “not lose yourself in this rejoicing: wait… it is not possible, your notion must be wrong” (23.95-96).

    Penelope has been tricked into thinking that her husband has finally returned home many times before so she has conditioned her heart to not bring her hopes up whenever someone brings her news about Odysseus. She has been through pain and suffering many times before as people used her commitment to Odysseus to their advantage. In turn, her being skeptical about people and the truthfulness of their statements asserts that she is in full ownership of her heart. She takes care of her heart, being sure it will not get hurt easily.

    Furthermore, when Penelope goes to confront the supposed Odysseus she tells her son that “If really he is Odysseus, truly home, beyond all doubt we two shall know each other better than you or anyone” (23.122-125). She still proves to not be easily convinced when it comes to things that might break her heart through keeping her distance with people that might upset her heart. Through doing this, she is showing another protection mechanism she uses to make sure her heart does not suffer. Penelope has grown from a really trusting person to one that questions statements before putting her whole heart forth to believe them.

    In the tricks she performs on the suitor, Penelope displays another form of protection that she uses to safeguard her heart. Penelope tells the suitors that she will weave a shroud for her father in law and once she finished spinning her thread, she will choose a suitor. “So every day she wove on the great loom-but every night by torchlight she unwove it; and so for three years she deceived the Achaeans” (22.112- 118).

    In this instance of her trickery, Penelope is just using another way to protect her heart. She keeps the suitors at bay, distancing them as she knows they might end up hurting her. The suitors keep on saying that they are amazing and could match up, and maybe even better, than her husband Odysseus. Penelope knows that this is not true and will just have her heart become disappointed if she was to accept and believe the suitors. The thread and weaving of the shroud might even symbolise her growth and journey.

    Everyday, her heart becomes stronger, much like the shroud being woven, but then at night when the shroud is unravelled, it can be compared to how her heart has been broken down by false news. The day one of Penelope’s maids reveals her trick can be a parallel to the day that Penelope realizes that she cannot keep blindly trusting others is. Another cunning ruse she pulls on the suitors in order to take care of her heart was one of the bow and arrow.

    She tells the suitors that “here is my lord Odysseus’ hunting bow. Bend and string it if you can. Who sends an arrow through iron ax-helve sockets, twelve in line? I join my life with his” (21.78-81). This was another way for Penelope to keep her distance from the suitors to protect herself. Alongside that, it was also a way for Penelope to test her suspicions that the beggar might be her husband.

    Odysseus was the only one that could perform the ax and arrow trick so through conducting this ruse, Penelope’s smart actions kills two birds with one stone. She is doing this to bide her time even more as she knows the suitors would not be able to perform such a feat. Alongside that, she has an intuition that the beggar is Odysseus in disguise but does not want to automatically believe that like she has done before.

    In performing these clever tricks. Much like the weaving of the loom, this could also be symbolism to Penelope trusting her heart. One must have or go through all the factors, such as being able to string the bow and be able to shoot the arrows through the axes, in order for Penelope to trust them. Penelope succeeds and keeping away from people that might harm her heart and also uses it to test the waters for certain people to make sure they are trustworthy.

    To be a mistress of one’s heart is to be in full care of it, to nurture and to protect it. Penelope has grown into being in possession of her heart through becoming more skeptical or what people say, question its veracity, and also using her cunning skills to keep people at a distance. These two actions all play to help Penelope not break her heart and hurt it further. Penelope has mastered the keeping of her heart as she has become increasingly able to care and safeguard it.

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    Penelope as the Master of Keeping of Heart in Odyssey, a Poem by Homer. (2022, Dec 13). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/penelope-as-the-master-of-keeping-of-heart-in-odyssey-a-poem-by-homer/

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