Season: 2-6, Episodes: 14, Faction: Desmond
Penelope “Penny” Hume (née Widmore) was the wife of Desmond Hume, the daughter of Charles Widmore, and half-sister of Daniel Faraday. Before he became stranded on the island, Penny was the long time girlfriend of Desmond. However, due to Desmond’s fear of commitment, they stopped seeing each other. After Desmond went missing in 2001, Penny began searching for him hoping he was still alive. Due to a brief interaction with Charlie Pace, she knew there were survivors of the crash of Oceanic Flight 815. Thanks to a phone conversation with Desmond, she was able to track his location to the area near the Island, aboard the Searcher. There, she picked up a lifeboat containing the Oceanic Six, as well as Frank Lapidus and her long-lost love, Desmond. After the rescue of the Oceanic Six, Penelope married Desmond and they had a child together, Charlie Hume.
In the flash-sideways, she and Desmond reunited. She later moved on with him and his friends from the island.
Before Desmond’s disappearance (1994-1996)
3×17 – Catch-22
In 1994, Penelope met Desmond at a monastery in Scotland, where Desmond had lived as a novice, but had recently been ‘fired’ from the order. Penny arrived at the monastery to pick up a shipment of Moriah Wine purchased by her father. Upon meeting Desmond, she convinced him to travel with her to Carlisle to deliver the wine. (“Catch-22”)
3×08 – Flashes Before Your Eyes
Penny dated Desmond for two years, eventually moving into his flat, because he was apparently too proud to move into her larger one. After she moved in, Desmond met with her father. He was offered a job in the administrative department (which Desmond refused) at the Widmore Corporation, but was denied Mr. Widmore’s blessing to marry Penny. Penny decided they should celebrate, because she was pleased he was “spared the miserable existence under the employ of Widmore Industries”, and was unaware of Desmond’s request for marital blessing.
Desmond still planned to propose to Penny despite her father’s refusal to give his blessings, but suddenly changed his mind after a street vendor took a photograph of the couple that Desmond could not afford. He felt unworthy of Penny and unable to properly care for her, telling her that she deserved better. During the split up, Penelope called him a coward. (“Flashes Before Your Eyes”)
4×05 – The Constant
A short time after, Desmond called Penny claiming he was in trouble and needed help. She said she was trying to get over him, had moved to a new place, and did not want to speak to him. She then changed her phone number. However, Desmond managed to obtain Penny’s new address from her father because he was convinced Penny would tell Desmond herself that she did not want to see him anymore. He later came to Penny, begging to speak with her. She agreed to see him. Desmond explained that all he wanted was her new phone number, and he would not call her until Christmas Eve eight years in the future. Confused and hurt, she reluctantly gave him the number, 79460893, and forced him out of the apartment. (“The Constant”)
Despite the breakup and Desmond’s strange behavior, Penelope still loved him and never gave up on him. She placed a love letter in Desmond’s copy of Our Mutual Friend before he was sent to military prison for undisclosed reasons. However, he wouldn’t find it until much later, after the accidental death of Kelvin, roughly three years after he shipwrecked on the Island.
While Desmond was in prison, he wrote many letters to Penelope; however, her father had intercepted all of these letters before they reached her. As a result, according to her father, she got over Desmond and became engaged to someone else.
Her father’s version of the situation was called into question when Penny tracked him down in the U.S. She asked him why he never wrote to her, and whether he ever had a chance to read his beloved book. When Desmond asked how she found him, she replied that “with enough money and determination, you can find anyone”. Desmond informed her that her father told him about her engagement, which she did not deny and only replied they had not yet set a wedding date. When Desmond affirmed he would be back in a year, she responded, “what if you were back right now?” Desmond ended the conversation by telling her emphatically that he’d be back in a year after he won her father’s boat race to get his honor back. (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1”)
After Desmond’s disappearance
4×05 – The Constant
Soon after Desmond crashed on the island, Penny began searching for him. At some point, she managed to learn about the island, but the extent of her knowledge, and where it came from, is unknown. (“The Constant”)
Three years after Desmond’s disappearance, there was a discharge and detection of an electromagnetic anomaly which caught the attention of two Portuguese-speaking men at the listening station. Penny was notified by telephone at 3:05 a.m., her local time, that they “found it.”
The callers referred to her as “Miss Widmore”, indicating she was not married. On her nightstand was a similar photograph of her and Desmond as the one that Desmond carried. (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1”)
3×17 – Catch-22
Not long after, a helicopter crashed offshore of the Island, and a parachutist landed in the jungle, Desmond’s flashes convinced him it was Penny. But it turned out to be Naomi Dorrit instead. A book Naomi was carrying had a copy of the photo of Desmond and Penny inside. (“Catch-22”).
Naomi claimed that, although she had never met Penny herself, Penny hired Naomi’s company to investigate the coordinates of the anomaly, which appeared to be in the middle of the ocean. (“The Brig”) (“Through the Looking Glass, Part 1”)
After Charlie turned off the signal jam at The Looking Glass, a button lit up telling Charlie there was an incoming transmission. He pressed the button, and Penny appeared on-screen. Her response to Charlie’s question if she was “on the boat” was “What boat?” When Charlie clarified and mentioned Naomi, Penny seemed confused and replied, “I am not on a boat; who, who’s Naomi?” As she asked how he got this frequency, she heard Charlie shout for Desmond. Penny smiled as Charlie assured her that Desmond was fine.
However, Charlie was interrupted by Mikhail, the man who was presumably killed by Desmond before Charlie entered the transmission room. Mikhail, had escaped into the ocean, was floating outside the window and armed with a grenade by the window of the room Charlie was currently inside. The window shattered due to the explosion and the Looking Glass began to flood. Charlie, sacrificing his own life, shut the airtight door to stop the flooding. Desmond shouted Penny’s name as the door closed, but it was uncertain if Penny heard him. Charlie assumed Naomi had been lying about Penny hiring her company. So before he drowned, he wrote a message on his hand for Desmond, “Not Penny’s boat”. (“Through the Looking Glass, Part 1”)
Associated LOST Themes & DHARMA Stations
Decoded Family Members
Decoded Season 1 Characters
Decoded Season 2 Characters
Decoded Season 3 & 4 Characters
Decoded Season 5 Characters
Key Episode(s) to Decoding the Character
(Merit) Meret, whose name means ‘beloved’, is the divine singer or musician, frequently depicted as twins, the Merety, who may in turn be identified with pairs of Goddesses such as Isis and Nephthys (for instance in CT spell 920) or Wadjet and Nekhbet. Meret plays an important role in all manner of ceremonies, and her function therefore transcends the strictly musical to encompass all the harmonies and rhythms of the cosmos, arousing the Gods to action and accompanying their activities. In a certain sense, Meret embodies the entire performative aspect of ritual. A degree of uncertainty surrounds the apparent occurrence of the Merety in several spells from the Coffin Texts (spells 440-443, 450) for “driving off the mrwty,” who are “companions of Re” and who “make health for Re daily” (443), but who also threaten to take away the deceased’s magic, or powers, or soul. To avoid this, it is apparently necessary to identify with Re as well as to placate the Merety, as in spell 440: “I am Re … I am the lord of these two mrwt … You noble companions of Re who make Re healthy, you possess what you have requested, you possess your joy.” Drioton 1955 argues that the Merety are to be understood in these texts as Re’s lovers, who would seduce and disable their victim on Re’s behalf. The corresponding spell in the Book of the Dead (BD spell 37) interprets the Merety as uraei, divine fire-spitting cobras dedicated to the defense of Re, from whom the deceased secures protection (as in BD spell 41B as well) by identifying with Horus, son of Osiris. In BD spell 58, a shortened version of a ferry-boat spell, the ferryman asks, “Who is that with thee?” to which the deceased responds, “They are the two Merety,” (similarly in BD spell 122).
In Egyptian mythology, Meret (also spelled Mert) was a goddess who was strongly associated with rejoicing, such as singing and dancing.
Meret was a token wife occasionally given to Hapy, the god of the Nile. Her name being a reference to this, meaning simply the beloved. As token wife, she was usually depicted with the same associations as Hapy, having on her head either the blue lotus for Upper Egypt, or the papyrus plant for Lower Egypt. Since Hapy was the source of bountifulness, Meret was usually depicted with an offering bowl, as she was seen, being his wife, as the symbolic recipient of his generosity.
Amongst the lower classes, where nationalism was less important than successful harvest, she was more strongly considered the wife of Hapy than the protectresses of Lower and Upper Egypt, which were more normally his wife in the upper classes. As a deity whose role was to be the symbolic receiver of bounty from the inundation of the Nile, she was strongly associated with rejoicing, such as singing and dancing. Later stories tell that Meret was the goddess of the eighth hour, in the Book of Gates.
Mythological Family Members & Associated Deities
In Homer’s Odyssey, Penelope is the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay in his long absence and is eventually reunited with him.
Her name has traditionally been associated with faithfulness, and so it was with the Greeks and Romans, but some recent feminist readings offer a more ambiguous interpretation.
Role in the Odyssey
Penelope is the wife of the main character, the king of Ithaca, Odysseus (Ulysses in Roman mythology), and daughter of Icarius and his wife Periboea. She only has one son by Odysseus, Telemachus, who was born just before Odysseus was called to fight in the Trojan War. She waits twenty years for the final return of her husband, during which she has a hard time snubbing marriage proposals from 108 odious suitors (led by Antinous and including Agelaus, Amphinomus, Ctessippus, Demoptolemus, Elatus, Euryades, Eurymachus and Peisandros).
On Odysseus’s return, disguised as an old beggar, he finds that Penelope has remained faithful. She has devised tricks to delay her suitors, one of which is to pretend to be weaving a burial shroud for Odysseus’s elderly father Laertes and claiming that she will choose a suitor when she has finished. Every night for three years, she undoes part of the shroud, until some unfaithful maidens discover her chicanery and reveal it to the suitors.
Because of her efforts to put off remarriage, Penelope is often seen as a symbol of connubial fidelity. Although we are reminded several times of her fidelity, Penelope does begin to become restless (due in part to Athena’s meddling), and longs to “display herself to her suitors, fan their hearts, inflame them more” (xviii.183-84). As Irene de Jong comments:
As so often, it is Athena who takes the initiative in giving the story a new direction . . . Usually the motives of mortal and god coincide, here they do not: Athena wants Penelope to fan the Suitor’s desire for her and (thereby) make her more esteemed by her husband and son; Penelope has no real motive . . . she simply feels an unprecedented impulse to meet the men she so loathes . . . adding that she might take this opportunity to talk to Telemachus (which she will indeed do).
She is ambivalent, variously asking Artemis to kill her and, apparently, considering marrying one of the suitors. When the disguised Odysseus returns, she announces in her long interview with the disguised hero that whoever can string Odysseus’s rigid bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axe shafts may have her hand. “For the plot of the Odyssey, of course, her decision is the turning point, the move that makes possible the long-predicted triumph of the returning hero”.
There is debate as to whether she is aware that Odysseus is behind the disguise. Penelope and the suitors know that Odysseus (were he in fact present) would easily surpass all in any test of masculine skill. Since Odysseus seems to be the only person (perhaps excepting Telemachus) who can actually use the bow, it could merely have been another delaying tactic of Penelope’s.
When the contest of the bow begins, none of the suitors is able to string the bow, but Odysseus does, and wins the contest. Having done so, he proceeds to slaughter the suitors – beginning with Antinous whom he finds drinking from Odysseus’ cup – with help from Telemachus, Athena and two servants, Eumaeus the swineherd and Philoetius the cowherd. Odysseus has now revealed himself in all his glory (with a little makeover by Athena); yet Penelope cannot believe that her husband has really returned—she fears that it is perhaps some god in disguise, as in the story of Alcmene—and tests him by ordering her servant Euryclea to move the bed in their wedding-chamber. Odysseus protests that this cannot be done since he made the bed himself and knows that one of its legs is a living olive tree. Penelope finally accepts that he truly is her husband, a moment that highlights their homophrosyne (like-mindedness).
In one story of the Epic Cycle, subsequent to Odysseus’ death, Penelope marries his son by Circe, Telegonus, with whom she becomes the mother of Italus. Telemachus also marries Circe when Penelope and Telemachus bring Odysseus’s body to Aeaea.
In conclusion, Penelope is one of the few strong women characters seen in Odyssey. Though she has not seen Odysseus in twenty years, and despite the pressure from the suitors trying to make her remarry, she never loses loyalty towards her husband. She does have help from Athena, who often visits her in dreams to reassure her. Though she does prove that she loves Odysseus, she still responds to the suitors with some uncertainty. She does not refuse to marry the suitors but she does put off her decision to remarry, leading them on with promises that she will choose a new husband as soon as certain things happen. Her shrewd delaying tactics expose her sly and artful side. Her plan of not remarrying until she completes a burial shroud that she knows she will never complete buys her time.