Why i want a wife

Topics: Satire, Need, Want Pages: 5 (2263 words) Published: October 20, 2013
In "Why I Want a Wife," Brady offers hypothetical criteria for an ideal wife in a satirical commentary on how the work of wives is often taken for granted. The humor of the essay lies in its structure: on the surface it seems to accept the criteria it puts forth, while the meaning actually operates in the recognition that the narrator is being sarcastic. Using writing as one of her tools for activism, Judy (Syfers) Brady has established herself as a supporter of the women’s movement since she began more than thirty years ago. In "Why I Want a Wife," she narrates a setting that mocks the situations and obligations wives find themselves immersed in. The narrator draws on her own experiences to present examples of how “good” wives are expected to behave. The satirical critique emerges as the narrator thinks through her reasons for wanting a wife. The language used has a satirical edge evident in both the author’s emphasis on certain modifiers (indicated by italics) and in the surface structure of the sentences, which belies the underlying criticisms. The audience should recognize the sarcasm from the language and attitude of the narrator. Now let's consider all the elements supporting her satirical point, beginning with the author's long history with this style of writing. Much as her personal life informs her recent article in the "Women’s Review of Books," Judy Brady appears to have drawn on her own experiences when she wrote, "Why I Want a Wife." In the essay, the author/narrator drives home the amount and type of work expected of wives both by situating herself as involved in some it and by listing qualifications. In my reading, the setting of the over-worked housewife will take the form of the narrator both being such a wife and of describing such as wife through mimicry. To indicate this setting, I will use actions to reinforce the narrator’s words. For example, at the beginning, in the clause "while I was ironing," the narrator slips in that she thought through her argument while engaged in domestic labor. When I read that line, I will direct a look at the audience that conveys just how thrilled I am to be pressing clothes. Which is to say, my look will suggest that yet again, while I was doing one of my many thankless jobs, I was thinking about that "poor" guy. A second way I intend to suggest the setting is to give the audience a withering look while I use my right hand to pick up and put away imaginary things as I read the lines "I want a wife who will keep my house clean. A wife who will pick up after my children, a wife who will pick up after me. I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it." Later, to show the perfect wife being the perfect hostess, I will offer up imaginary hors d’oeuvres with a graceful sweep of my hand when read the clause "I want a wife who takes care of the needs of my guests so that they feel comfortable, who makes sure that they have an ashtray, that they are passed the hors d’oeuvres, that they are offered a second helping of the food, that their wine glasses are replenished when necessary, that their coffee is served to them as they like it." The gracefulness of the movement will hopefully reinforce the wife-seekers conception of feminine social skills in addition to suggesting and mimicking an actual setting where hors d’oeuvres are being offered. Also, to follow up that line and to show that the coffee is just right, I will bring up my right hand, holding my fingers folded down, except for my thumb and index finger, which will be touching at the imaginary point of perfection. This movement will signify the (anal) expectations about a wife’s responsibilities. In all these ways the author's relationship to the setting supports the point of the essay through a performance of the character's satirical tone. As a...
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