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Women in The Odyssey: Lesson Plan: Penelope Needs a Friend

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 2/24/2015

Tired of the same letter writing lesson plans? Feeling bad for Penelope? Solve both problems with this Odyssey writing activity.

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    The Odyssey Writing Activity

    "So you see class, letters should--" I looked up and noticed everyone was snoring except Cathy Coffeeslurp.The Odyssey 

    "Dude," she said, "This letter-writing lesson plan is not going very well. Maybe you should combine a letter-writing lesson plan with a writing assignment centering around The Odyssey? Perhaps we could learn about the role of women in The Odyssey. They didn't seem to have as many rights as the men. How come women in this piece didn't castrate their men for cheating on them? As far as the women are concerned, I liked Penelope more than Helen. Helen gets too much attention. She's just a broad. Maybe we could have a letter-writing lesson plan about writing a letter to Penelope in The Odyssey?"

    "That sounds like a great The Odyssey writing activity," I responded, "and a great letter-writing lesson plan. I think I'll write it now."

    "I already wrote it. Let's wake these bums up and start teaching!"

    Here's what Cathy handed me:

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    The Odyssey Writing Activity

    Assignment: Write a letter to Penelope giving her advice on how to handle one of her many problems.

    1. Prewriting - Focus on a problem Penelope would have faced: not having her husband around, problems raising her son, how to handle the suitors, what to look for in a new husband, how to handle rude suitors.
    2. Prewriting - Brainstorm possible solutions. What should Penelope do about all the suitors? What can she say to her wimpy son? Should she fire the maids consorting with the suitors?
    3. Drafting - Follow proper form. Letters begin with a heading and salutation. End with a closing and your signature.
    4. Drafting - Address the problem in the beginning. The letter introduction should state the problem you are about to solve. The body of your letter should provide potential solutions.
    5. Revising - Make sure your letter sticks to the point. Make sure you state the problem in the first paragraph. It should contain at least two possible solutions. Make sure the solutions are logical.
    6. Revising - Make sure the solutions are logical and include details. Make sure it follows proper letter format.
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    Example

    Dear Penelope,

    I hear Antinous is causing problems. He's eating your food, drinking your wine, and intends to marry you; furthermore, he is the leader of the suitors and causes them to commit heinous acts. If you eliminate Antinous, many of your problems are solved. Here are some ideas.

    You may not be aware of this, but he's having a fling with one of your maids. Detain the aforementioned maid and write a fake letter in her name to Antinous. Tell him to meet you by the cliff on the south side of the island. Station Telemachus on the rocky crag above and instruct him to shoot him with an arrow. The other option would be to poison him. That would make for a boring story, no suspense.

    Yours Truly,

    Hermes