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Word Count: 2,990
In her essay Penelope as Moral Agent Helene Foley attempts to discuss Penelope a major character in Homers the Odyssey in terms of Classical Athenian portrayals of women and as her title suggests in terms of what she calls a moral agent In her introductory paragraph she lays out guidelines as set down by Aristotle and his contemporaries that constitute a moral agent the character must make an ethical and moral decision on which the actions turnswithout critical knowledge of the circumstances Foley 93 To this end Foley ultimately decides that Penelope meets these standards and adds that her social familial and personal responsibilities play integral roles in making that decision Foleys examples and her in-depth analysis of the Odyssey all support her thesis as I have interpreted it to be There are however problems in her comparison of the Odyssey and outside texts especially that of Carol Gilligan inconsistencies in citations and style and examples that either have little or nothing to do with her thesis The largest problem with this essay that I could find is the ignorance of a few facts that could possibly be construed as being in opposition to her findings Since I am not familiar with and have not read any of the outside texts to which Foley refers Aristotles Oedipus Tyrannos Poetics Politics and Ethics the Hippocratic medical texts and the feminist theory of Carol Gilligan I can only assume that her interpretations of these texts are correct In any case she uses Aristotle and Hippocrates in order to develop a historical framework against which she can judge Homers fictitious character Penelope This method would have led to a good argument if she had included in her analysis an explanation of what constitutes a Classical writer and had specified whether or not Homer was included in that group Direct connections she makes between the Odyssey and the outside texts are nominal She neglects to explain why she would
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