Throughout history, women have been looked at as the lesser gender, mortal or immortal. They are always stereotyped as not equally important as men. I strongly disagree with this idea, especially in the book The Odyssey.
In The Odyssey, Homer suggests that the women characters in the book are more important than the characters of men despite their stereotype. He portrays this through the characters of Penelope, Kalypso, and Kirke. They are important because they are a large part of the story. The most important woman in this book is Penelope, mainly because of her guile and intelligence.
Her guile and intelligence make her important because they put her at a much-needed mental advantage over the suitors. An example of her guile and intelligence is the instance of the shroud she wove for Laertes. When Antinoos is talking to Telemakhos about how Telemakhoss mother, Penelope, tricked the suitors by weaving and unweaving the shroud to avoid marrying a suitor, he says, We have mens hearts; she touched them; we agreed. 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 Akhains. (2:111-114). As a result of doing this, Penelope delayed having to marry one of the suitors for almost four years.
It gave Odysseus more time to get home. Another example of Penelopes guile and intelligence is when she tested Odysseus when she was first reunited with him. She tested him by telling Eurykleia to make up his bed and to put it outside the bedchamber. In this quote Penelope is telling Eurykleia to move Odysseus bed.
Make up his bed for him, Eurykleia. Place it outside the bedchamber my lord made with his own hands. Pile the big bed with fleeces, rugs, and sheets of the purest linen. (23:202-205). Upon hearing this, Odysseus claimed that his great bed couldnt be moved because it was connected to a living tree.
He knew this, because he had built it many years before. Then Penelope knew it was he because only the real Odysseus could have known that. Penelope is more important than other men because she settles some problems temporarily and some problems permanently. Kalypso, the goddess-nymph is also a key woman in the Odyssey.
She is important because of the fact that Odysseus slept with her for seven years. When, Odysseus is telling King Anlkinoos about his wanderings, he says, Though I have been detained long by Kalypso, loveliest among goddesses, who held me in her smooth caves, to be her hearts delight, (9:32-34). This is significant because for seven years of being held captive by Kalypso, Odysseus is sleeping with her for the whole time. Meanwhile, back at Ithaca, Penelope successfully stayed faithful to her husband for ten years. Kalypso is basically one of the two women that Odysseus slept with during his wanderings. Kalypso is more important than other men because Odysseus slept with her for seven years.
If Penelope ever found out, it could possibly be a problem for Odysseus. She is also important because she was most of Odysseus journey home. Another vital woman in The Odyssey is the goddess-enchantress Kirke. She is important because of the amount of time Odysseus and his men spent at her castle and all the information she gave Odysseus regarding the journey he must make in order to get home to Ithaka. Kirke describes what they will encounter on the sea on their way to Ithaka. This is important because there is many things they encountered at sea and they would not of known what to do if it wasnt for her.
When Kirke is about to tell Odysseus what is in his path, she says, Listen with care to this, now, and a god will arm your mind. (12:46-47). This is important because if she hadnt given this advice, everyone, including Odysseus would have died. Kirke is also important because of the amount of time they spent there. In this quote Odysseus is telling the story of Kirke and the amount of time they spent there. So day by day we lingered, feasting long on roasts and wine, until a year we grew fat My shipmates one day summoned me and said: Captain shake off this trance, and think of home if home indeed awaits us (10:515-522).
The significance of this is the time factor. If Odysseus wanderings were ten years this was definitely a large amount of time. Kirke is more important than other men because Odysseus slept with her, which could possibly be a problem for him in the future. She is also important because if she did not tell Odysseus what he was going to encounter, he would have never made it home alive. In the book The Odyssey, Homer proves that men characters are less significant than the women characters like Penelope, Kirke, and Kalypso, even though women are stereotyped to be inferior to men.
In a way, this idea relates to women in the workplace. A lot of times women are paid less than a man for doing the same job. Given what Homer has taught us about the equality of women shouldnt we treat them the same. For starters, we could pay them just as much money as a man makes in the workplace.