Women In The Odyssey

Superior Essays
The role of women in society is an issue discussed throughout The Odyssey by Homer, the Bible, and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft. These texts all illustrate different roles for women in society; however, there are some common ideas between the texts. Since these texts were written at different time periods, The Odyssey first, then the Bible, and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman last, a contributing factor to the differences in the views on the role of women in society is the societal norms held at the time. The Odyssey and the Bible agree with the norms of the time while Wollstonecraft wrote against the gender norms held by society at that time. The differences between the texts portrayal of women are emphasized …show more content…
First, women in The Odyssey are supposed to manage the household. For example, women are responsible for serving meals and the management of the serving staff. One example from the text where women are given the duty of serving meals is when Telemachos is preparing to leave Menelaos ' house: "immediately he [Menelaos] told his wife and all the maidservants / to prepare a dinner out of what was there in abundance" (Homer 227). It is evident from the text that it is only women who are preparing and serving the meal since it says maidservants instead of a gender-neutral term for the serving staff. Because of this differentiation, it can be inferred that male servants were given different tasks in the household compared to their female counterparts. Non-servant women in The Odyssey are responsible for overseeing the serving staff. For instance, Telemachos tells his mother, Penelope, "Go therefore back in the house, and take up your own work, / the loom and the distaff, and see to it that your handmaidens/ ply their work also; but the men must see to discussion" (Homer 36). Telemachos tells Penelope that part of her job is to make sure the serving staff is doing their work. She is also instructed to go back to weaving. Also, this statement by Telemachos to Penelope shows another distinction present in The Odyssey between the roles of men and women. When Telemachos tells Penelope "the men must see to discussion," it gives the impression that men are the decision-makers and are too important to concern themselves with tasks around the household. Women have no role in this discussion, not even Penelope, the queen. Women are given the tasks that are viewed as of lesser importance compared to the duties men have. Women in The Odyssey are expected to be the overseer of the household and to perform household

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