When researching criticism on Hawthorne’s works, I ran across an interesting piece that dealt with the feminist view of “The Birth-Mark.” The article, written by Fetterly, explores the relationship between Aylmer and his wife, and how this relationship is a typical male-dominated situation. Although there is the fact that the story deals with the failure of the scientist, there is an underlying current here of how Aylmer views his wife: in a negative manner. This view towards women can be seen in several of the works of Hawthorne’s – among them “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” “The Prophetic Pictures,” and “Lady Eleanor’s Mantle.” While this view of women is not always at the forefront of the piece, it is certainly worth exploring how they are treated by the men in each.
In “The Birthmark,” Aylmer sets about the task of ridding his wife of the one imperfection she has. By attempting to perfect her, the readers get the idea that somehow Georgiana is not adequate and this inadequacy lies in her appearance. The message to the readers seems to be that women need to be perfect on the outside as well as on the inside, which Aylmer claims is flawless. Aylmer decides he is going to “fix” Georgiana. Feminists look at this as a male control issue. There are several mentions of Georgiana as being “otherwise so perfect,” in both appearance and soul – save for this birthmark. This idea of having to have the most beautiful wife is very degrading view of women. It plants the idea in our minds that men are superior to women, and that men are the ones who can “fix” females in the attempt to bring them up to the level of me…
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…hadow of death falling over the female characters in each of these stories. This would fit into what Fetterly describes as “the great American dream of eliminating women.” It seems that the role of the men in these pieces were chiefly to try and control their wives/love interests/daughters in the attempt to get an upper hand in the battle of the sexes. There are not any productive male-female relationships seen here, and feminists would conclude that this stems from the need to dominate women, probably because men are afraid of the power of women. We can’t know what’s going on in the minds of these men, but it certainly is interesting to look at the relationships they have with the main female characters.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. ” Rappaccini’s Daughter.” Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tales. Ed. James McIntosh. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1987.
Relationships in Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club Joy Luck Club Essays
Relationships in The Joy Luck Club The Joy Luck Club is a representation of the persistent tensions and powerful bonds between mother and daughter in a Chinese American society and is written by Amy Tan. The book illustrates the hardships both the mother and daughters go through in order to please the other. Also, it shows the troubles the daughters face when growing up in two cultures. This book reveals that most of the time mothers really do know best. Throughout all of the Jing-Mei Woo stories, June has to recall all of the memories of what her mother had told her. She remembers how her mother left her babies during the war. Junes mother felt that since she had failed as a mother to her first babies she had failed as a person. When she made June take piano lessons June thought that she was trying to make her become a child prodigy like Waverly, but her mother did this because she knew it would benefit June for the rest of her life. Because of the death of her mother, June was forced to take the place of her mother in more than just filling her place at the Maj Jong table. The mother daughter tradition was broken because the lost babies were found after the death of their mother. Junes trip to China can be seen as the completion of her mothers promise to return, honoring her sisters by attempting to transfer what she had absorbed from her mother and her tradition. And I think, My mother is right. I am becoming Chinese(Tan 306). This is what June thinks as she crosses into China. Like the Taoist Yin/Yang symbol, June and her mother have become two of the same thing. The only difference being their thoughts, June with American, her mother with Chinese. This has kept the mother-daughter tradition alive but has also weakened it. This happens often, but there is always something that sticks and is passed down from generation to generation. Heredity is the transmission from one generation to the next of factors that determine the traits of offspring. Although successful breeding of plants and animals was practiced by humans long before modern civilizations were established, there is no evidence that these early people understood the nature of hereditary factors or how they are transmitted through reproduction. The story of June and An-mei is a prime example of heredity. Although many girls’ worst fears would be turning out like their mother, it can’t, in many ways, be helped. June felt slightly hesitant in becoming more like her mother but, it, in the words of June’s mother An-mei, “Cannot be helped” (Tan 306). June’s hesitance can be seen in a quote referring to her mothers statement of certain heredity: “And when she said this, I saw myself transforming like a werewolf, a mutant tag of DNA suddenly triggered, repplicating itself into a syndrome, a cluster of telltale Chinese behaviors, all of those things my mother did to embarrass me…..” (Tan 307). Whether these traits were manifested due to lifelong exposure to her mother, or they were simply genetic, codes of DNA by which June’s life and habbits would be determined, one thing, in this case, is for certain: daughters and mothers are alike. It can be seen in everyday life, and Amy Tan beautifully describes and exhibits this fact in her portrayl of the stories involving June and her mother.