Gender: Odysseus and Sexual Escapades Essay example

Submitted By s73v3nd
Words: 429
Pages: 2

Penelope deceives the suitors by every night undoing the tapestry she weaves, thereby avoiding having to choose among the suitors that have taken residence at her home. Her trickery ensures her fidelity. She is the ever-faithful wife, never once taking a man to her bed in the twenty years of her husband’s absence. It is taken for granted that Penelope should be faithful, while Odysseus’ sexual escapades (which are many) are similarly taken for granted. Because he is the man, Odysseus is not held up to the same standards as his wife. If Penelope had taken a lover during his absence she would have been harshly critiqued. Calypso addresses this double standard and hypocrisy when Hermes comes to tell her she must let Odysseus return home. She cries, “Oh you vile gods, in jealousy supernal!/ You hate it when we choose to lie with men” (124-125, V). While she does succumb to the will of Zeus and let Odysseus go free, she recognizes the unfairness that she, an immortal, should have to give up her lover (whose life she saved), while male gods who frequently take mortal lovers are not held to the same standards.
Calypso exemplifies the idea of woman as a dangerous seductress. She has kept Odysseus on the island for nearly a decade, calling him to her chamber every night while he is unable to resist her charms. No blame is put on Odysseus for succumbing to her charms, it is understood that he was powerless to resist her. He lies with her not because he desires her in any way, but because he is no match for the power of her seduction.