Comparative Analysis: the Penelopiad and Homer's Odyssey

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There are always two sides to the story. I always kept this in mind while reading The Penelopiad, in recognition of Homer's The Odyssey. The story of The Odyssey written by Homer is known by many people. The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus and his voyage home from Troy. Then there is the story The Penelopiad written by Margaret Atwood, which tells the Odyssey from Penelope's perspective in a feminist lens. In The Odyssey by Homer and The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, the authors illustrate the similarities and differences when it comes to the power and corruption in society.

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Margaret Atwood's reaction to The Odyssey explores the corruption in the cultural desires for sexuality made by social classes and sex divisions. Through intertextuality to The Odyssey's book 22, Margaret Atwood questions the legitimacy of the maids' execution. The safeguard lawyer asserts the maids, 'engaged in sexual relations without consent' exemplifying that the maids to feature the bad form of their slave status. The expression 'consent' suggests that the servitude social class was not qualified for control of their very own bodies in Ancient Greece. Therefore, The Penelopiad divides from The Odyssey since most old fashioned compositions focus on the achievements of males. Later, Margaret Atwood questions traditional male-arranged history by focusing on female characters. The plural pronoun 'they' further concludes that the maids as they are gathered to be put into a solitary unit rather than being tended to by their names. The split of the maids' characters from the group who are just ready to identify with their exploitation instead of associating with them on a more personal level. This transforms the maids into puzzling results of the anger managed against them while Odysseus is reevaluated into an egotist. In like manner, the focal point of female characters creates insight into sexual orientation and class issues inside The Odyssey. In chapter two of The Penelopiad, the maids said: “ Dirt was our concern, dirt was our business, dirt was our specialty, dirt was our fault ”. The author included this to make the reader aware that the women clean up after others but are never able to clean themselves. The maids are also blamed for being dirty and treated like they are garbage. Resulting in making the maids feel like they don't belong and that they don't deserve to live.

Despite the distinction in tone and language to depict a similar circumstance, the two stories are similar when they talk about what position Penelope was in- as a lady at the time and how she was physically unable to reject the suitors from the castle. The stories also reveal that she wishes to stay devoted to Odysseus as she thinks he is still alive. However, both authors have different styles of writing when it comes to word choice and the arrangement of the sentences. Margaret Atwood's style of writing is not only distinctive but effective. She goes in-depth about how men not only empower women but how they manage to harm one another by using symbolism and parallelism. The purpose of her writing is to inform and warn the reader about the exploitation of women and the powerless men who are apart of society. The Penelopiad effectively remakes and gives a voice to characters to address inconsistencies disregarded in The Odyssey. The maids sing, 'we had no voice, (Atwood 64)' where the application of the past tense 'had' infers that Margaret Atwood aims to give words to how people viewed their execution. The redundancy of the line credits to the importance of their story being shared with others. This uncovers postmodern translations of Odysseus that come up from the inconsistencies of actions and behaviors. Penelope makes it clear that the attitude of how Odysseus kills the suitors is for having an affair and hunching down in his home. This renounces that his activities as he is having an affair with Circe  and he attacks the Cyclopes' home thinking that they would be friendly. Henceforth, the redundancy of the lines makes a powerful move as Odysseus was the one with all the power in society in the book The Odyssey, but the incongruity of his actions changes the way people think of him. Therefore, the use of reiteration and incongruity are literary devices that Margaret Atwood uses to focus on Odysseus' actions to prove that males have the power resulting in a corrupted society.

Both stories illustrate the power and corruption in society. Without hearing both sides of the story you can get all the facts in a situation. This allows the reader to gain a different perspective and develop sympathy for them now that you know both of them are coming from. 

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