Thesis Statement: Even though both Penelope and Helen had problems concerning men, love, and life; they both had different ways of dealing with them.
Helen of Troy and Penelope are two women that are featured in the Odyssey. Helen of Troy was considered a very beautiful woman. She was a demigoddess. There were many princes and suitors that wanted to marry her. Odysseus even wanted to marry her. In the end she chose Menelaus to marry. Eventually they had two children and Menelaus became the King of Sparta. Paris who is the Prince of Troy was sent by Aphrodite (goddess of love) to go wed Helen. While Menelaus was away at Crete, Paris took his chance. Paris took Helen back to Troy with him (it is unclear whether she went willingly or not). When Menelaus returned home he was furious to find this out. So he gathered his army and went to Troy; this is how the Trojan War began. She is known as “the face that launched 1,000 ships”. Penelope on the other hand is the complete opposite. She like Helen is beautiful, but she doesn’t use that to get her way. Penelope is a very intelligent woman. She is a mortal. She like Helen had to marry a suitor and she chose Odysseus. Helen is actually Penelope’s cousin, they’re relationship is very strained the two don’t get along. But Penelope is very faithful to her husband. For over 20 years he is gone from her life and not once does she cheat or have the desire to remarry.
Penelope is a very intelligent and faithful woman. “And she begun to weave, and the weaving fine-spun, the yarns endless and she would lead us on” (Speaker: Antonius. Book 2, lines 103-204). Penelope did not want to marry any of the suitors. But she knew that just telling them no would not work. So what she had to do was come up with an elaborate plan on how to make it so she has a reason for not marrying one of them. So she came up with a weaving trick. Promising them that once she finished it she would choose one to wed. In actuality her plan all along was to unweave so she wouldn’t have to marry anyone. This is a very wise and clever trick that she pulls. In this sense she is like Helen. Even though Helen used her beauty to get what she wanted she still was very intelligent. If anything she tricked men more then anything. Both of these women are alike in the sense that they both have high intelligence.
Helen explains herself how she treats men. “I grieved too late for the madness Aphrodite sent me…neither brains nor beauty” (Speaker: Helen. Book 4, lines 301-304). Helen is telling them about what happened. Aphrodite sent Paris to go fall in love and marry Helen, and because of that the Trojan War started. This quote references to both Helen and Penelope in the sense of their differences. Because Helen was beautiful and lonely the moment Paris came along she went right to him. For 20 years about 140 have done nothing but try to marry Penelope. Because she is a faithful wife she did not once cheat on Odysseus or leave him for another man. She stood by him diligently, something that Helen doesn’t do when it comes to men.
Even after a long
period of time
Penelope is still not ready to move on. “Odysseus—if he could return to tend my life the renown I had would only grow in glory. Now my life is torment” (Speaker: Penelope. Book 19, lines 141-143). This is Penelope talking towards the end of the Odyssey. She is explaining how she feels about Odysseus. For 20 years he has been away from her, for 20 years she has been without a husband. She is depressed and it feels like torment to her because she is without him. Her and Helen are dislike in this sense. Helen when her husband was gone for a little bit of time easily remarried. And when her new husband died she remarried immediately after that. Helen is the type of woman who feels like in order for her to be happy she has to be with a man, and the fact that she’s beautiful only adds to it. Romantically when it comes to men, Penelope is much stronger than Helen.
Conclusion: Even though both Penelope and Helen had problems concerning men, love, and life; they both had different ways of dealing with them. Helen was a very very beautiful woman and she used that to her advantage. While Penelope on the other hand used her intelligence and dedication to get through life. They were both very smart and clever, but approached love differently. I believe that the Greeks made both of these women for a reason. To show the different personalities that people can actually have. Because the world is filled with Helen’s and Penelope’s