The poem Penelope by Dorothy Parker describes the relationship between Odysseus and his wife, Penelope. The manner in which Penelope, the narrator, speaks of her husband and his journey is somewhat sarcastic and resentful. This poem shows her perceptions of Odysseus, and also the role women have played in the past. Penelope describes her life and how she perceives her husbands life to be. The one-worded title gives the impression of a plain, simple woman and prepares the reader for her thoughts.
The first half of the poem describes Penelope’s perception of Odysseus journey. She paints a picture of a golden sea and an endless blue sky. She makes his daily tasks seem effortless. This is, of course, a false statement. Odysseus had to deal with many obstacles; for instance, angry gods and goddesses, mental and physical temptation dealing with women (which he failed- horribly), and battles with natural elements. Penelope perceives her husbands life to be far more glamorous than it really is. The second part of the poem focuses on Penelope and her life at home.
She speaks of how she waits and waits for Odysseus and portrays the seconds as endless. She talks about snipping the thread, describing the blanket she was making that was to be completed, and upon that date she was to pick a suitor. At night she would take it apart to give her husband more time to return. She describes all her chores and makes them out to be more difficult than Odysseus voyage. She has a tremendous amount of responsibility in running the kingdom and raising a son without a father.
The last line expresses Penelopes sarcasm. She thinks that the people of her country will praise her husband as brave and wonderful, when she feels her job is just as important and that if she had the same opportunities as he, she would also be so brave. Dorothy Parker has the reputation for taking stabs at semi-serious issues and making them comical. This is an example of such humor. The role of women at that time was to stand behind the man in whatever he does and to not voice any opinions.
In this poem, Dorothy Parker alludes to the work The Odyssey to spark a sense of recollection of the story so she can make a point in these ten lines that other works take hundreds of pages to make. Penelope describes Odysseys journeys to the best of her narrow knowledge of the world. She compares her job to his and implies she has more responsibilities and gets less recompense. Penelope encompasses all women of that time. This deep symbolism is reflected through our knowledge of society in the 1930s and our education in The Odyssey.