The Boarding House

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The Boarding House
Who is a victim and who an abuser in The Boarding House?

Since the first paragraph of The Boarding House, there is a sense that Mrs. Mooney is the victim of an abusive husband- “...Mr. Mooney began to go to the devil. He Drank, plundered the till, ran headlong into debt.” The reader sees Mrs. Mooney as the woman who illustrates the difficulties a single mother faces raising a daughter, however her plan to marry her daughter into a higher class banishes any sympathy the reader feels for her- tricking Mr. Doran makes Mrs. Mooney the new abuser. In the first paragraph of “The Boarding House” Mrs. Mooney is referred to as “a determined woman.” This reference suggests that even when under her abusive, alcoholic husband’s thumb, she will not stay the quite, controlled woman for long. As her husband pushes her to her limits by threatening her, she takes her first steps of becoming a woman of her own, she opens her own boarding house, and running it “...cunningly and firmly...” Mrs. Mooney has experienced a difficult marriage and separation- “One night he went for his wife with the cleaver and she had to sleep in a neighbour’s house.” The first paragraph of the story makes the reader sympathize with Mrs. Mooney, thinking she is the weak woman who lets her husband control her, however after Mrs. Mooney opens the boarding house to make a living, she is referred to as ‘The Madam’, “All the resident young men spoke of her as The Madam.” This reference gives a connotation of a lady standing in the head of a whorehouse, suggesting she is a strong, powerful lady, who will not be any one's victim. The connotation of the whorehouse mistress is not completely baseless. Mrs. Mooney, to some degree, prostitutes her own daughter Polly. She wants Polly to entertain the young men who stay at the boarding house- “I’m a... naughty girl. You needn’t sham: You know I am.” At...
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