In Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey, Penelope shows cleverness that makes her worthy of being a hero and worthy of Odysseus. Despite this fact people overlook her position because they are focused on Odysseus’ challenge. Penelope shows her cleverness through three different ways: an interrogation, a challenge, and a secret between her and Odysseus.
Homer displays Penelope’s cleverness through an interrogation between her and Odysseus. For example, when Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, asks Penelope to tell him about herself and how she remained unwed, “Penelope replied . . . Ruses served my turn to draw the time out” (606). This shows her cleverness by showing that she was smart enough to make up tricks to stay unwed until Odysseus returned even though he was believed dead. Furthermore, when “Penelope. . . asks the beggar to tell about himself” Odysseus “makes up a tale” where he mentions that Odysseus will return home soon (607). This shows that Penelope is a match for Odysseus by showing that she is smart enough and asking the beggar if he knows Odysseus and if he is alive.
In addition, Homer reveals that Penelope’s cunningness makes her a match for Odysseus by having her host a challenge for the suitors that only Odysseus could do. When Penelope is almost forced to marry, she declares that “she will marry the man who can string Odysseus’ bow and shoot an arrow through twelve ax handle sockets” (607). This shows that her cleverness makes her a match by having her challenge a group of her suitors to something she knows Odysseus can do and is sure that only he could do it. Later, when Penelope meets with Odysseus after the challenge she decides to “[test] Odysseus to prove he really is her husband” (613). This shows her craftiness makes her a match for Odysseus by showing that she doesn’t take his identity at face value and questions if he is her husband even though he could complete the challenge.
Furthermore, Homer highlights Penelope’s cleverness and shows she is a match for Odysseus through secrets. For example, before Odysseus returns home Penelope had a “close grained web” that she would weave during the day and “unweaved it at night” (606). This shows her cleverness by showing the measures she went through to be unwed until Odysseus returned and allowed her more time. Also, when Odysseus asks for a bed Penelope asks a nurse to “ make up his bed for him” and to “ place it outside the bedchamber” (613-14). This shows her craftiness by testing him with a well kept secret about their bed.
In conclusion, Penelope shows that her cleverness makes her a match for Odysseus and that she is smart. She also uses three different ways to show that she is a worthy match and that she is intelligent. Although not many people believe her to be that clever or important she goes through a hero’s journey and is very clever.