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Penelope Is the Determining Moral Agent Essay

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Updated: May 23rd, 2019

Homer provides a comprehensive picture of the society of the ancient Greece in his Famous work The Odyssey. Penelope can be regarded as embodiment of rightfulness. It is also necessary to note that Penelope should be regarded as a determining moral agent as it is her own way to live and she has her own sense of what is wrong and what is right (remarkably, her decisions are rightful in terms of morality).

Notably, her rightfulness is manifested in different terrains. For instance, she follows rules accepted in the society. She knows that it is not right to be alone with many men and she is determined to maintain her reputation. She says, “I am not going among the men alone; it would not be proper for me to do so” (Homer XVIII: 4). Of course, following rules of the society is not the greatest virtue of Penelope who is rightful in all respects.

Thus, Penelope loves her husband and she cannot betray him. She knows that getting married is a betrayal even though she is starting to believe that her husband is dead. She is “all the time broken-hearted about” her beloved husband (Homer XIX: 3). She knows no joy and when the night comes her “heart becomes a prey to the most incessant and cruel tortures” (Homer XIX: 8).

She understands that she cannot do the wrong thing and marry another man. She manages to work out the way to postpone the new marriage. She says to a stranger she trusts, “I used to keep working at my great web all day long, but at night I would unpick the stitches again by torch light” (Homer XIX: 3). She manages to fool her suitors for three years, and she knows that this trick is the right thing to do as it can save her from the greater vice.

It is also important to note that the only thing that may make Penelope betray her love is her promise she has given to her beloved husband. She is “forced to finish” her work and choose a husband (Homer XIX: 3).

She is thinking of her son and she knows that the only way to save the house and even to save her son’s life is to betray her love and “quit” the house of her “lawful husband” (Homer XIX: 9). Again, she chooses the right thing to do. She makes the final attempt to escape from marriage, but she is ready to get married and “quit” the house of her “lawful husband, so goodly and so abounding in wealth” so that her son could live a happy life (Homer XXI: 2).

It is also important to note that Penelope does not deceive her suitors and does not pretend loving anyone of them. She always says what she thinks. She calls her suitors those “who persist in abusing hospitality” of her house (Homer XXI: 2).

She also explains to her suitors that she as well as the mysterious stranger can think badly of the suitors as they “must not expect others to think well of them” (Homer XXI: 6). Finally, Penelope is rightfulness as she understands that her sorrow cannot let her accept the man who claims to be her husband and she tries the man asking him about things they “two are alone acquainted” with (Homer XXIII: 3). She does not want to be deceived “with a lying story” (Homer XXIII: 4).

In conclusion, it is possible to note that Penelope is a rightful woman who follows her own code of conduct. She manages to keep the family hearth for her husband. She is also the determining moral agent as she is the one to work out her set of rules to follow and remain a rightful woman.

Works Cited

Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Samuel Butler, Page by Page Books, 2004. Web. <>.

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