Rhetorical Analysis of ‘I Want A Wife’
The second wave of the feminist movement in the United States began during early 1960’s and lasted throughout late 1970’s. The purpose of the feminist movement was to have a right to vote and have the same equal rights as male citizens. Judy Brady’s essay “I Want A Wife” first appeared in the Ms. Magazine’s inaugural issue in 1971. The genre of the article is a classic piece of feminist humor and is depicted as satirical prose. In this essay Brady aims to convince her readers to look objectively at a man’s viewpoints and expectations of what he thinks a wife is and what she should be. Brady skillfully uses clear arguments, repetition of key words and stylish language to make her essay strong and convincing.
Exigence: Judy Brady writes in her essay about the demands that are required from wife. She emphasizes the point that the roles of wife are unfair to the role of husband, and that there is an obvious difference, inequality, between the roles of husband and wife. Exhausted by disparities in the household work and by the fact that the work done by wife goes unnoticed, she boldly expresses her feelings. Brady demonstrates her point by giving examples of some household chores that are commonly performed by wife. “I want a wife who will have the house clean, 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 .” After listing all this numerous outrageous tasks, she concludes the article with an emotional statement, “My God, who wouldn’t want a wife?”
Audience: Clearly Judy Brady is writing to married men and women. This can be inferred because the article is about expectations of a wife in a marriage. But not only does she write for married couples, she also writes to men and women in general. The fact that person is married or not doesn’t matter in this article. The audience is expected to know a little bit about divorce and marriage life. The audience is also presumed at least to have a high school level of reading and basic understanding of words such as “adherence”, “monogamy”, and “nurturance”. She is trying to get out to the public that these expectations and these stereotypes of roles of women, should stop. This goes back to her exigence, which is the unfairness of roles of women.
Purpose: Why should people read and act upon her statements? With her arguments, she is trying to say, “All women stop! You don’t have to act this way.” She wants women to stop immediately acting as ‘slaves.’ Her constant phrase “I want a wife to…” rattles up emotions of readers, which in turn, might encourage people to take action. The reason she wants people to read it is because she wants people to understand that the roles of women is demoralizing to them. Brady classifies what a wife is through husband’s eyes. Brady connects wit and sarcasm, effective use of language, and rhetoric to make a very strong piece of influential writing with the purpose to show how men see their wives. This piece of rhetoric ultimately implies the husband’s selfishness and laziness, and his want to be “left free”. This article was made to make the audience to think and ponder.
Brady effectively uses the Greek umbrella term, Rhetoric, which is clearly organized and very well thought out. Rhetoric means the art of using language to communicate effectively and images to affect an audience. Brady uses Rhetoric throughout her essay involving three audience appeals: Ethos, Pathos and Logos.
Ethos: She establishes her credibility in the first couple of paragraphs of her argument. “I belong to that classification of people known as wives. I am A Wife, not altogether incidentally, I am a mother.” Not only does her being a wife make her creditable, she also seems to have a lot of knowledge and this gives the audience to know that she really knows something about her subject. And all that knowledge of what the wife roles are does not come from anywhere. She must have experienced it herself to know what the roles of women are. She lists numerous ‘jobs’ that are expected of a wife and her language sounds that of a fed up and annoyed wife. In addition, her article was printed in the spring 1972 issue of Ms. Magazine which sets her credibility for the article. Moreover, she was an activist for the feminist movement.
Pathos: When reading her article, she wants people to take action. She wants people to get angry at the topic. She also wants the men who expect this from women to feel jealous. She does this by first stating who she is. “I belong to that classification of people known as wives.” She addresses the stresses of everyday life and exaggerated expectations of a man from their wives. Then she goes on by listing the ‘jobs’ required by women. After couple pages of ‘jobs’ she says, “My God, who wouldn’t want a wife?” This conclusion is very emotional towards the argument, and the presence of irony in it clearly indicates that women are under too much stress. Brady demonstrates how men treat their wives unfairly and demand too much from them. She wants to discourage men from abusing their wives. Brady also encourages women who are unaware of such abuses to step up and take some actions. Many women are also unaware of what things they are doing wrong. By reading this essay, women can assess their life and find out if their husbands demand too much from them in terms of wives duties.
Logos: Judy Brady’s article contains clear arguments. One of her arguments is that women are expected to do too much. She doesn’t deliver this message directly, but refers to it by listing the role of women. Another argument identified in her essay is the inequality of men and women. In her article she writes that she is a man that wants to go to school and be supported financially. She needs a wife to fulfill her needs such as taking care of the house, children, bills, regular health check-ups of family members, and social life. She argues that husbands require too much from their wives and points out that it should be avoided. Her arguments are effectively structured. She attracts the readers by her credibility. And by showing the tasks of women, one by one; she involves her readers in her strong arguments. She uses simple words which are very effective in expressing her views.