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Penelope By Dorothy Parker Analysis


Whatever the poem or the painting looks like, it tells what it should say to the people. Both of these literal aspects deal with the matters affecting a human being. Some use direct illustrations, while others use indirect ones; they use literal devices to hide the message. “Penelope”, written by Dorothy Parker, is an example of a poem that illustrates the theme directly. Similarly, in the painting “Penelope and The Suitors” by John Williams Waterhouse, several themes have been illustrated. Therefore, in this paper, we are going to illustrate how the theme of love is shared between the painting and the poem.

Poetry Analysis

The “Penelope” is a reflection of the dominance and subjugation of the great deeds of the woman. If the woman can’t fight the battle, it doesn’t mean she is unable or weak; in fact, she has other tasks, including keeping the house safe, etc. Thus, the poem of Penelope is a pathetic illustration of the wife whose efforts have been ignored, but that of King Odysseus is portrayed as being a nobleman, and the bravery is personalized. Homer’s Odyssey tells the story of the way chieftains of the Ithaca and the nearby islands wanted to be her suitors at the moment her husband was in a long absence during the Trojan War. To spare the importance for herself, she insisted that they should wait until the moment she has woven the shroud for Laertes, the father of Odysseus. Each night, she unravelled a piece that she had woven within the day so that she would not give up on the hope of the return of her beloved husband and then marrying again. The secret is revealed by the maids, but after a long moment of waiting, Odysseus returns, proves his identity and finally accepts him for the marriage. The poem has a rhyme scheme of “ababaccdde,” and the closest type of the stanza is a sonnet.

The Home’s account is considered to be dominant in the ancient world when there were many stories. One of them includes Telegonus, the son of Odysseus and the Circe, who sets forth to find the father, but by mistake, he kills him. Then Telegonus returns to the mother Island with Penelope for marriage, and Circe marries Telemachus. Penelope and Telegonus had the son Italus, who is considered the Italian hero.

Research About The Poet (Dorothy Parker)

Dorothy Parker was born on 22nd August 1893 in West End near Long Beach, and she died in 1967. She is known to be an American writer and poet and for her witty remarks. She was educated at the school of Miss Dana in Morristown and at the Blessed Sacrament Convent in New York. She later joined an edition staff of the Vague magazine in mid-1916 and later moved to Vanity Fair to do drama critique. She married Edwin Parker, whom she divorced but retained the surname for her professional career.

After she was discharged from “Vanity Fair in 1920” due to the acerbity of the drama, she became a writer of freelance. The first book she wrote was Enough Rope, in which she used a lot of light, wit, and cynical verses. Became a bestseller the moment it appeared on the market in 1926. She also wrote two books, “Sunset Gun” and “Death and Taxes”, with a poem “, Not so Deep as a Well.” She became a book reviewer called “Constant Reader” in 1927 for the New Yorkers, and she was also associated with the magazine as one of the staff writers.

Dorothy became one of the founder members of the “Algonquin Round Table In Manhattan, in which by no means measures she was in the least of the dazzling group wit, which included “Benchley R., Sherwood and also James Thurber. It was from that conversation that Parker became established to be one of the “brilliant conversationalists found in New York”. Her wit was widely renowned, and the “quips and mots” were mostly used to attribute her strength of reputation. She led to the liberation of women in the 1920s.

She won Henry Award in 1929 of the best short stories with the “Big Blond” which is a compassionate account of the aging party girl. The other short stories she wrote include ‘Lament for the Living and also After Such Pleasures.” In 1933, they received an Academic Award from her new husband, Alan Campbell, after they went to Hollywood for the celebration of film writers. She was also an activist in the “Left-wing politics” where she disdained the initial role of the smart woman in the town. She also wrote book reviews for the “Esquire magazine” and made collaboration in two plays “The Coast of Illyria” and “The Ladies of the Corridor.” On the other hand, Parker’s witty remarks are legendary. For instance, she is responsible for the couplet: “Men seldom make passes / at girls who wear glasses.” She died while in Hollywood.

Painting Analysis

In the work of painting, J.W. Waterhouse made an impression on the poetic imagination of the Pre-Raphaelites. To create the poetic picture, he used bread handling and loose brushes, which were credited to the influence of French painters like Bastien-Lepage. The poem of the Homer epic was used to record the legendary marital fidelity, Penelope. For a lot of years, the husband was absent in the siege of Troy. She was pressed to make the second marriage, but she requested time, illustrating to the crows of the suitors that they should wait until she finishes weaving the shroud for the father-in-law. During the day, she makes the weaving, and during the night, she remains convinced that Odysseus can return, and she continues with the daily work.

Research About The Artist/Painter

James William Waterhouse, also called Nino, is an English painter from the Victorian era, and he is known for his large-scale painting of mythical subjects. He is linked with the predecessor “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood” based on their interests in their literary subjects, the contemporaries and the impressionists that have been exemplified by the sketchy or bushy way that he always applied to canvas painting.

He started his studies at the Royal Academy in London by pursuing sculpture. By 1874, he had switched to painting, as seen in the paintwork he exhibited at the Royal Academy in the summer. The paintings of the Waterhouse were distinct, rich and glowing in colour. Like his predecessor, he depicted a lot of beautiful, dramatic women who were damsels in the stress, femmes’ fatales, and enchantresses. He turned the tragic figure of Ophelia as the subject three times, and he captured her in three different moments when she was coming to death. He also painted many figures of the Tennyson’s poem “The Lady of Shalott” which is a subject that was prized by his predecessor in 1888. He depicted the seat in the floating boat in the stream for the imminent death. He continued to produce the work of literary theme and mythological throughout his exhibition at the Royal Academy before his death, where he was honoured as an associate member.

Theme Connecting The Poem And Painting

The theme that has been illustrated in the poem and the painting concerns love. In “the painting Penelope & the Suitors, Waterhouse J.W. uses the idea of Penelope” weaving her thread while Odysseus is out to sea to show that even though your loved one is gone for many years, still stay faithful and don’t be put under pressure to marry someone else just because they think your husband is dead. “In the poem, Penelope, Dorothy Parker uses the same scene to show that even though someone you love has been gone for a very long time, it doesn’t mean they are dead and that you should stay faithful.”


From the paper, we can conclude that love is true when there is an element of faithfulness, even when there is destruction over time. A person can’t know what the other person is going through until they have experienced it by themselves.


“Dorothy Parker.” Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 13 Jan. 2000. Accessed 7 Mar. 2018.

“Penelope.” Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 5 Feb. 2008. Accessed 7 Mar. 2018.

“Penelope.” Myths and Legends of the World, edited by John M. Wickersham, Macmillan Reference USA, 2000. Research in Context, Accessed 7 Mar. 2018.

“John William Waterhouse.” Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 29 Jul. 2016. Accessed 7 Mar. 2018.

Lee, Chaeyeon. Penelope. 23 February 2016. 7 March 2018.



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