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Unfortunate Relevance in an Effective Work

01/29/2015

Though the duties of a wife have changed in the forty years since “I Want a Wife” was written by Judy Brady, the voice of the essay maintains the same rebellious energy that makes modern day women want to raise a fist to the man or, rather, men. America has come far in those forty years, replacing the idea of a nuclear family and quiet, obedient wife with that of single parent households often comprised of a parent and one or two dependent children. The majority of women seem to have rightfully come to the conclusion that the love of a man does not equate to happiness, and the idea of feminism has become increasingly relevant. That is what makes “I Want a Wife” such an effective work. If one did not give the audience an indication of when the piece was written, it would easily be applicable to today’s feminist movement. Brady ensnares her audience with the use of rhetorical appeals, satirical tone, and parallelism, creating an atmosphere of indignation that beckons both genders to come forward and confess their faults.

The author makes a point of opening by appealing to ethos, establishing herself as a wife and mother, so that fellow women can know she is writing from a perspective of experience and trust her knowledge of the feminine role in the family. The very first statement she makes establishes this respect with the careful diction, “I belong,” and from that moment the idea of a wife includes all women who belong to that “classification” (Brady p. 1). After all, they are not independent women, but rather indentured to their spouse. She makes further appeals, subtly to pathos, and more obviously to logos throughout the piece.

Brady states her case by building a logical though satirical argument, each responsibility that is expected of wives forming another brick to add to the foundation of the dispute over gender roles. Though the essay is only two pages in length, the listing of responsibilities intentionally seems to stretch on forever, the author mentioning extensive duties such as scheduling, cooking, cleaning, and physically caring for every member of the household except herself (Brady p 2-3). The audience is able to follow along with this logical appeal and visualize the absurdity of the duties wives are expected of. Readers of every gender, sexuality, and financial standing recognize that one human being is not capable of performing such tasks on their own and thus the roles that have always applied to females are unrealistic and out of touch.

The third appeal that the author targets is more subtle, but because it is an emotional appeal it is potentially the strongest and most effective. Pathos causes the reader to feel something, and Brady is particularly able to cause such feelings in the women who read this article, whether it be back then in 1971 or present day in 2015. The voice of the essay speaks with increasingly heated language, bringing to mind the volatile tenor of an angry husband standing over his cowering wife rather than the calm, ladylike soprano heard in the introduction. One feels the transition from the feminine “I was ironing one evening” to the masculine speaker begging for peace from all those “rambling complaints” (Brady p. 2, 5). Audience members who are in long term relationships begin to question who the ‘wife’ is in their situation and a fire slowly builds inside them. The essay compels readers to feel rebellious, guilty, or insulted, and it has been invoking these emotions for forty years. These appeals pair nicely with the next effective tactic Judy Brady utilizes – her tone.

The composer of this piece presides as royalty over the kingdom of satire. She tells her story coyly at first, and though she has twisted her argument into something much darker by the conclusion, it never loses its wit and sarcasm. The pitiful husband preaching Brady’s words just cannot seem to get what he wants in life – what a shame! Each satirical quip is like an additional stab wound to the wives’ oppressors, their guilt oozing out onto the freshly scrubbed tile floor, until we finally reach the cause of death. The final line, “my god, who wouldn’t want a wife”, is dripping in sarcasm, as well as something thicker and darker, because the tone with which it is read is absolutely lethal (Brady p. 10). The author crafts her tone with such delicacy that it leaves the reader awestruck and craving more, a technique which is aided by her consistent use of the literary technique parallelism.

If one were to skim “I Want a Wife”, as people often do rather than immersing themselves in the prose, the use of repetition and parallelism is blatantly obvious. The title of the piece is more than an introduction of the topic, but a chant that grows slowly louder the further one reads. Nearly every sentence of the essay begins in the same way, “I want a wife…,” and rather than getting monotonous with this repetition like a pop song overplayed on the radio, Brady is capable of making these parallel phrases more meaningful with each utterance (Brady p. 1-10). This needy desire for an automaton-like spouse spirals downward from the role of receptionist to sex slave within a matter of ten paragraphs, hitting the reader with such candidness they are left reeling and in need of something to cleanse their minds from such brutal thoughts – which is exactly what the author wants. Her goal is make people feel dirty about the roles given to women in society, and for them to want to change the way the female population is viewed. With every repetition of the essay’s title, the author draws the audience further in. Every time they hear the phrase “I want a wife” followed by some obligatory chore, another person commits themselves to aiding the feminists’ cause (Brady p. 1-10).

Judy Brady wrote this piece in 1971, as a woman in a strange time in the United States. Equality was being fought for on all fronts, and it is difficult to realize that four decades later that war has not been won. “I Want a Wife” is so effective because it is unfortunately still relevant to society, and the fire of rebellion and change has not yet reached its highest heat (Brady). The author’s honesty is pertinent to the thoughts of women all across America. Aided by her use of literary techniques like rhetorical appeals, satirical tone, and parallelism, Brady crafted a timeless piece of art that stokes the fire of change, a nearly impossible feat for most people. The essay makes the reader want to get up and do something to change the world, and any work capable of inflicting such energy is impossible to argue against.

 

 

Works Cited

Brady, Judy. “I Want a Wife.” 1971. Essay. January 2015.

Past Assignments

Internet Vs. In Print

11/15/15

There is no question that the news industry has advanced tremendously over the past two-hundred years since newspapers became popular in the United States. What began as periodically-occurring newssheets in the 1700s has transformed into a persistent twenty-four hour news cycle that Benjamin Franklin would barely recognize. Technological changes have greatly altered the practices of our society, and the news process did not escape such drastic alterations, particularly with the addition of the internet to the list of informational sources. The World Wide Web left traditional media scrambling to catch up and, in order to compete with the internet, forced it to diversify narrower than ever before, while questioning how this new online format was supposed to bring in a profit.

The invention and development of the internet has spawned a niche market for almost everything one could think of, with an infinite number of websites and the ability to make a site for any chosen topic, no matter bizarre it may seem. Where previously new technology spurred small bouts of diversification throughout history, the internet nearly obliterates the need for mass communication due to its endless nooks and crannies. There is now an online resource for any type of news, and traditional news sources like newspapers have struggled to keep up with the online world. In the past, where it was common for towns to have one or two weekly papers, cities like Indianapolis now have a total of nine in circulation at any given time, most with a very specific audience in mind (USNPL, 2015). A great example of this diversification is the Indianapolis publication Nuvo Newsweekly, the self-described “alternative voice” of the city, with its writers offering up relentlessly honest articles on everything from liberal hatred of Republican political strategies to challenging whether or not Instagram photos should be considered art (Dolan, 2015). Nuvo is anything but an average newspaper, blatantly targeting the liberal Democratic sector of Indianapolis, and it does a fantastic job of competing with the stylishly biased sources of the internet, right down to the creative opinions its writers craft, closely mimicking that of a blog. Of course, even once traditional media found a way to match the infiniteness of the web, broadcasters and print publishers alike were still hemorrhaging profit in a way that closely matched the blood loss of a Tarantino movie.

The early 2000s caused such an urgency to get everything online that news stations conjured up websites faster than anyone could say the word ‘profit’, and as a result, the industry took a huge hit to the wallet they’re still attempting to make up for ten years later. In the short amount of time it took newspapers like the Indy Star to have a website up and running, the thought of a pay wall was all but forgotten, such was the fate of papers across the United States. Once the error had been realized, newspapers were once again frantic, this time rushing to build pay walls and keep people from accessing news for free. As we now know, the internet became so popular because it was difficult to charge people for accessing sites, (AOL’s ‘walled garden’ concept), and despite the addition of online subscriptions that limit the access of readers, it is always possible to find the news story one wants to read from a different, free source. Not only did the news industry lose money due to the ease of access for online information, it has been persistently pick-pocketed by the sudden scarcity of advertising available. Just as with news, advertising too went digital, taking with it the need for classified ads. The diversification of news also led to the divergence of commercials, with companies targeting only those news outlets that pertain to their primary market, and with the internet’s ability to track people’s favorite sites and searches, it functions as the ultimate form of micro-targeting. As a result, newspapers across the nation to teamed up with websites like www.monster.com, which boasts the nation’s largest newspaper partner recruitment network, to attempt to regain some lost profit from a lack of classifieds (Monster, 2015). This solution, while not the most productive for newspapers, is the best of the situation and makes up an adequate amount of profit in comparison to the lack of revenue companies would see without such compromises.

All in all, the industry has adapted, though somewhat haphazardly, to the immense technological changes that have swept over the United States in the past two-hundred years since newspapers became a consistent addition to everyday life. The news process, while it was unable to escape drastic alteration, will continue to live prosperously as long as its mediators remain educated on advances in society. The World Wide Web might have initially left traditional media scrambling to catch up, but after a decade of revolutionized relaying of information, it has become clear that though the industry will need to remain open to adaptation, it will always be a central part of modern society.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Dolan, S. (2015, September 23). Kicking and Screaming Til They Get Their Way. Nuvo Newsweekly, pp. 3-4.

Monster. (2015, May). Alliances and Partnerships. Retrieved from Monster.com: http://partner.monster.com/newspapers

USNPL. (2015). Indiana Newspapers. Retrieved from USNPL: http://www.usnpl.com/innews.php

 

 

blog

Christ in Limbo: A Trip to the IMA

 

Religion has and always will be a central theme in society, whether it be in today’s twenty-four hour news cycle or back when the idea of faith was brand new. In the case of Christianity, themes from the bible have been seen in works of art that date as far back as the 1500s, such is the case with the painting Christ in Limbo. Though the specific artist of this work is unknown, it was thought to be depicted by a follower of Hieronymus Bosch, a painter in the late 1400s. This particular piece of fine art features a chaotic smattering of subjects that as a whole very clearly portrays the artist’s fiery ideals of hell. The two-dimensional painting is non-representational, featuring both naturalistic depictions of humans and drastically contorted subjects, with no details truly indicative of our physical world or reality.

As was previously mentioned, this work of art is a painting which was created using oil paints on a wooden surface. Oil painting, which consists of pigments bound in an oil like linseed, became popular in Europe in the 15th century. At the time, artists prized oil paints in comparison to traditional tempera paints for the length of time it remained wet. Left alone, it could take an oil painting two weeks to dry, meaning over the course of that time the artist could alter the image however they wanted by mixing, removing, or adding layers.  In the case of an especially detailed work such as Christ in Limbo, the slow-drying quality of oil paint was most likely a huge benefit as it took a long time for the painting to be complete and has a very complex layout that may have been drafted several times.

Christ in Limbo was assumed to be created in the Netherlands around the year 1575, and as such was a part of the Northern Renaissance movement that took place in the 1500s. Religion was a central theme within the Renaissance as a result of the fall in the feudal system in Europe and the northern parts of the continent were no exception, with artists such as Bosch now known for their artistic depictions of Christianity. The subject matter of Northern works during this time is famous for consistently surrounding Gothic religious themes, whereas the Renaissance in southern Europe meant adding classical ideals from ancient Greece and Rome to its art. Another characteristic of art in the north during this period was painting on wooden panels, with Christ in Limbo being an excellent example of that technique, as book illustrators began focusing more on the imagery of biblical stories rather than the words telling them, eventually expanding their drawings so many that entire panels could be filled. It is possible that this particular painting began as a simple story which the artist thought might be better portrayed by oil and pigment.

There are a few different visual elements used in the piece which add to the tenebrous statement it makes, the most obvious of which being value. The lack of light and prominence of darkness is a type of artistic connotation in itself, immediately dragging the audience into hell, a place entirely void of hope or the light of the heavens. Light itself is also used as a focal point, the main source of it cascading from the opening where Christ descends from above, representing a beacon towards which the damned souls may crawl.

The piece is also demonstrative of the use of time and motion, without which would leave the scene much less dramatic. Upon close examination, every single subject in the arrangement gives the illusion of movement in some way, whether it be flinching from torture or scuttling from the mouth of Hell itself. The actions of these lost souls being doomed to an eternity of suffering adds to the already demanding agony of the work, with the audience feeling the hopelessness in the flames of damnation at their backs just as the subjects do.

While the painting’s title emphasizes the story behind the scene, and whom the main subject is meant to be, the enormous scale of Hell in comparison to the savior which is descending to save righteous souls makes a definitive religious statement. Of the hundreds of souls occupying hell, it seems impossible that Christ could possibly save them all and pull them from the clutches of eternal damnation. Such is the struggle of a person of faith, to fight against the ever-present sins of reality and save their soul from descending to hell. In that context, the difficulties of remaining a devout person, which are often only shamed instead of acknowledged by religious figures, is displayed and even highlighted in this piece. The painting is a depiction of the chaos and doubt a sinner might feel mentally, with the slim chance for redemption so small in comparison to the plight of their personal hell.

            Christ in Limbo is a work of art that physically portrays both a biblical tale and the frenzied swirl of human temptations as it compares to religious purity. Though the subject matter was built around Christian beliefs, the piece can be appreciated by those of differing or non-existing faiths, as it is always intriguing to consider what one’s personal ideas of hell or the afterlife might look life. Christ in Limbo stands out as an especially religious piece, a common theme for art of that time period and location, and causes the audience members to consider what a savior might look like to them, whether it be in terms of religious faith or simply someone they love that could pull them back from the edge.