The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad is a modern retelling of the classical Greek myth of Odysseus and Penelope. The novel is an exploration of the lives of the women in the story, particularly Penelope, who is often overshadowed by her husband's heroic exploits.
The novel is divided into several parts, each of which explores a different aspect of the story.
Part One: The Chorus Line
The book begins with an introduction by the Chorus, a group of twelve maids who were hanged after Odysseus returned to Ithaca. The Chorus serves as a Greek chorus, commenting on the action of the story and providing a different perspective on the events.
Part Two: The Shroud
Penelope narrates the second part of the book, which focuses on her life before and during the Trojan War. Penelope is a clever and resourceful woman, who is left to rule Ithaca in Odysseus's absence. When suitors come to court her, she devises a plan to delay them by weaving a shroud for Odysseus's father. Penelope's plan works, but she is eventually forced to marry one of the suitors.
Part Three: The Chorus Line 2
The Chorus returns in the third part of the book, commenting on the events that led to their deaths. They reveal that they were forced to sleep with the suitors and were later accused of being disloyal to Penelope.
Part Four: The Palace
In the fourth part of the book, Penelope's son Telemachus takes over the narration. He describes his efforts to find his father and his growing anger at the suitors who are destroying his home.
Part Five: The Chorus Line 3
The Chorus returns once again in the fifth part of the book, describing their execution and their journey to the underworld.
Part Six: The Return
The final part of the book is narrated by Penelope once again. She describes Odysseus's return to Ithaca and their reunion. However, she also reveals that she is haunted by the ghosts of the maids who were executed.
Overall, The Penelopiad is a powerful exploration of the lives of women in a male-dominated society. It challenges traditional assumptions about the roles of women in mythology and literature and provides a voice for those who have been silenced.