The Penelopiad | Study Guide

Margaret Atwood

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Margaret Atwood

Year Published





Mythology, Women's Studies

Perspective and Narrator

The primary narrator of The Penelopiad is Penelope, wife of Greek hero Odysseus, who tells the story in the first person. A chorus of 12 maids who serve Penelope and are killed at Odysseus's command provide additional narration. Most often they speak from their own first-person plural perspective, but occasionally they portray other characters and speak from their perspectives.


The Penelopiad is written in the present tense, after the narrator's death. As a spirit now residing in Hades, she uses the past tense to relate events that took place during her lifetime.

About the Title

The title The Penelopiad is a play on the name of the narrator, Penelope, and the title of the poet Homer's ancient Greek epic The Iliad (c. 750–650 BCE). It is meant to frame Penelope as the central protagonist in the tale, rather than her husband Odysseus, the hero of Homer's other epic poem, The Odyssey (c. 725–675 BCE).


This study guide for Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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