In life, if people insist on only fulfilling specific roles, at certain moments, who are you to change them?

Seeking complete satisfaction from one person is a demanding ordeal and not really fair.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s no need to settle for something you’re unhappy with, but perhaps learning to be content with the reality of each instance will help keep you pleased more often. If you continue to focus on what’s lacking, you’ll fail to notice what’s readily available.

Either way, what one person is not willing to provide, someone else will. That’s the way of the world…

Just because you’re not open enough to spot opportunities, doesn’t mean they’re not there!

Attract everything you need by staying real and living truthfully.

By grace, the Universe will give, but you need the freedom and awareness to know when gratitude must be granted.

With love as the power and purity of your existence, keep your energy in line with what you want, let the world reveal itself, and consciously welcome the goodness of your desires manifested.


Critical Writing: The Modern Woman

The Modern Woman

Within history, a multitude of movements have surfaced and influenced society. One in particular was that of Queen Victoria; she reigned the longest term in English History, from 1837 until her death in 1901. During the Victorian Age, the British Empire was at its summit—it conquered about a quarter of the world’s land.

Markets in industry, trade, science, and technology were making vast improvements and intensifying swiftly. In the face of this prosperity, however, factory workers and farm hands lived in dreadful penury; as a result, many people came to feel that traditional values could no longer conduct their lives. Directing one’s attention to Victorian writers, one recognizes how these authors analyzed the loss of faith in customary ideals (White 320-321). Because of the tumultuous change in Britain, public opinion was diversifying continuously.

During the later Victorian period, literature began to break off into an avant-garde movement known as Realism. Realism is the attempt to depict life as it is by examining daily activities and gaining awareness for one’s circumstances. The genre promotes an upheaval against literature that idealizes life (Lipking 171). One author in particular, Thomas Hardy, began nascent into this category and created venerable compositions in both prose and poetry.

Within his work, as an author, there’s a consistent attempt to introduce that which is remarkable or ground-breaking to that which is the accepted norm; Hardy’s fiction is created by his yearning to challenge (Boumelha 28). Characters in realistic fiction tend to be less extraordinary; most deal with everyday events and believable people. These characters often excite recognition because of society’s increasing want for a realistic understanding of social problems (Lipking 171-172).

Focusing on his classic novel, Jude the Obscure, one can clearly recognize how Hardy was struggling to cross the bridge between Victorianism to Realism; this is best portrayed by his work’s characterizations, more specifically, those of Arabella Donn and Susanna Bridehead. Hardy’s purpose in writing this book was to use these women as representations of the definitive modern woman. Within the story, both these women are lovers of the main character, Jude Fawely. He loves both women because each has aspects which are mysterious because they differ from the stereotypical woman. The image of the “perfect” woman still rested in the minds of the majority. Since Hardy was attempting to break conventions by creating these two characters that embodied the modern woman, people were shocked and responded critically.

Generally, women were seen as creatures who should be submissive to the men they answer to. “…love of home, children, and domestic duties are the only passions [women] feel.” (Picard 265). Double standards are what instituted this idea of male preeminence; even though “biological differences play a part in forming gender roles, those differences are amplified by cultural and environmental influences.” (Blum 25). Consequently, men of the Victorian period were used to women who conformed to the ideas of men, Hardy’s recognition of the qualities of the modern women were unparalleled.

“The modern woman sees herself as a unique individual first and foremost−family, friends, success and career fulfillment are all byproducts of knowing oneself first.” (Dillon 1). The modern woman is one who is not afraid to break barriers because autonomy is the priority; now although Hardy had to produce two characters in order to accomplish this, his purpose was to establish the constructs of the modern woman in regards to the spirit and mind, which is Sue, and the body and behavior, which is Arabella.

Truly, because both women are representative of the “New Woman”, several aspects of their characters are affected, such as their appearance, expectations, and relationships. In addition, because both women hold different traits of the “New Woman”, Hardy is able to allow them to personify a changing archetype of what a woman can become. “The modern woman sees herself as having choices…” (Dillon 1).

Sue Bridehead is intellectual and unique. She has an ambitious perception and uses her scholarly ways to challenge those around her. Oftentimes, she defies the typical ideals of what a woman, wife, and mother should be. She acts selfishly, not considering the strain her advances put on others. While she feels she is “sexless”, she is honestly just pure and different.

Shifting to Arabella Donn, she is the impulsive and more sensual of the twain. She is manipulative and seductive. Simultaneously, she is spontaneous and raw—she is the physical strength that counteracts the fortitude of Sue’s inner being. While Arabella is superficial, Sue is plainer. “The women’s clothes seem a part of their bodies by virtue of their incorporation into the woman’s sexual awareness.” (Boumelha 35). Arabella has fake hair because she understands a man’s need to be aroused and provoked; she is more in touch with her sexuality, which allows her to seduce Jude and entrap him in the first place. Sue, however, has a more boyish appearance, and is more concerned with keeping men as equal comrades rather than sexual objects. Hardy formed these characters to be self-aware; they recognize their situations and use their flattering traits to their advantage.

Although most women at that time had a strongly internalized sense of adhering to conventional social values, Sue and Arabella went against society’s expectations and ethics, and did what was most suitable to their feelings—their needs and desires. Throughout Hardy’s fiction, a radical split formed in women’s consciousness between self-perception and perception by others; it is the latter which gives origin to self-consciousness and to that apprehension which recognizes the judgment of others. (Boumehla 35-36). Both these women took note of the way others viewed them and their conduct, yet still, each woman lived for herself and did what would better her in the long run.

One can evidently link this to the way each carried out her relationships. Focusing on Arabella, she was involved in two marriages. Originally, her first marriage transpired due to her chicanery. She met Jude, seduced him, and then claimed to be pregnant in order to procure an engagement. With Jude, she felt a connection and did what was necessary to fulfill her desire to keep him, regardless of how deceitful and conniving she had to be. Arabella’s character contrasted greatly to the ideology of women from the classic Victorian society. At that time, the majority of women were believed not to be much troubled with sexual feelings of any kind, nor did they do anything to emasculate their male counterparts; it was believed that a woman seldom desired any sexual gratification for herself (Picard 265).

Centering back to Arabella’s other marriage, the union was committed in adultery and, because she never ended her first, was considered an act of bigamy. She wed an Australian hotel manager, Cartlett, because prospects with him seemed promising; unfortunately, for her, he died. After this, she ended up remarrying Jude once he and Sue split. At this point, she coaxed Jude into the marriage—he had gone back to drinking and was getting sicker each day; hence, she facilitated his weakened state to benefit her best interests. Although Arabella appears somewhat ruthless, she manifests the raw ambition and tact which was nonexistent in most women; she did what she had to in order to maintain her happiness.

Similarly, Susanna Bridehead also did what was necessary to maintain her happiness. She didn’t falter in her ambitions of living a life of betterment…she knew that she need not adhere to society’s standards, for she created her own standards, her own consequences. Sue lived for herself. Surprisingly, Sue also experienced two relationships−one was her marriage to Richard Phillotson and the other was her illegitimate one with Jude Fawely. Initially, Sue married Richard as a formal agreement; he happened to be a professor, and she planned to go into teaching with him, so they could later open up a school together. Sue was smart; she was stimulated, not by lust or men, but by books and intellect. She never fell into obligations she didn’t want to—this can be seen from her other platonic friendship with a man she used to live with. Although he insisted she be his lover, she refused and stayed as his edifying equal. Even with Richard, Sue did what she felt she must and ended up leaving him because she wanted to stay with Jude. Regarding her marriage, she never fulfilled her “duty” as Phillotson’s wife because she simply didn’t want a sexual relationship with him.

Sue’s personality contrasted immensely with the expectations and pressures of that time; it was believed that when a man was inclined to have sex, the wife should be available; the sexual act itself is only meant to pleasure the male−the woman must do it out of subordination (Picard 264-265). The woman was meant to subject her body to surveillance and intervention at her companion’s request (Boumelha 25).  Sue never did what she didn’t want to do; this is best demonstrated in her relationship with Jude. She cared for Jude because she envisioned a future with him as friends and cohorts. With him, she did end up fulfilling her supposed “duty” of bearing children, yet she did it because she wanted to. However, because she and Jude never married, many people didn’t even try to recognize their relationship—they believed their union to be sinful because it was unlawful. Even though all Sue had to do was marry Jude, she didn’t want to−therefore, she didn’t. She was steadfast in her views and didn’t alter to fit anyone’s needs but her own. Although she was constantly pressured by external forces, Sue went against it all and fulfilled her own desire to be satisfied in life.

Separated, these two women are completely different, yet as one they create the definitive modern woman. In creating these characters, Hardy was able to challenge the prevalent ideologies of Victorian society, especially regarding the relationships these women endured. The ideal marriage consisted of the man earning the family income and his wife was suppose to stay at home, make herself and the place beautifully comfortable to suit her husband after he arrived from an exhausting day (Picard 264). Arabella and Sue counteracted this philosophy; both of their unions promoted divorce and they acted in accordance to what would benefit them, not their partners.

Hardy was criticized for his portrayal of women because they were innovative and new—people, especially men, felt threatened and criticized Hardy for his audacity. Unfortunately, because of all the negative criticisms of his works, Hardy decided to give up writing novels and went back to poetry. Yet today, his compositions are honored and are placed in the cannon of influential literature. Hardy was bold and it paid off because he created representations for women to follow and learn from, thus promoting the enlightenment and strength a woman could obtain—then and for generations to come.

Works Cited

Blum, Deborah. “Both Biology and Culture Help Establish Gender Roles.” Egendor, Ed. Laura K. Male/Female Roles: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc,, 2000. 25.

Boumelha, Penny. Thomas Hardy and Women: Sexual Ideology and Narrative Form. Sussex: The Harvester Press Limited, 1982.

Dillon, Amber. “Insight to the Modern Woman–Lifestyles.” 5 March 2004. The Travel Online. 29 March 2009 <;.

Hardy, Thomas. Jude the Obscure. New York: Signet Classic, 1961.

Lipking, Lawrence. “”Realism”.” World Book, Inc. World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book, Inc, 2004 ed. 171-172.

Picard, Liza. Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840-1870. New York: St. Marting’s Press, 2005.

White, D.E. “English Literature.” World Book, Inc. World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book, Inc, 2006 ed. 320-321.

Critical Writing: The Powers of American Matriarchy: A Myth of the American Household

The Powers of American Matriarchy: A Myth of the American Household

            America is a free society unlike any other: an enterprise of exponential potential. The American Dream is all anyone could ever care to know: a life dedicated to the pursuit of happiness. The American Dream equates to the ideal illusion: everyone is entitled to everything—that is, as long as it sustains and strengthens their socially‑imposed roles. Employing the techniques from Roland Barthes’ book, Mythologies, I will correlate aspects of a traditionalized matriarchy as it relates to the realization of the American Household; by applying specific cultural constraints, I will depict and illuminate the powers of American Matriarchy. Utilizing a synchronized series of the “image‑at‑one’s disposal”, I will expose “the inoculation” of the American people; in so doing, American society will be seen as one stuck forever seeking the sensible stability of suburbia. Envisioning this collective understanding of how true American home‑life ought to be, “I shall henceforth not ‘act the things’ but ‘act their names’” (Barthes 146, 150).

The American Household is the ideal abode; one with a hardworking husband, happy‑housewife, and proper, obedient children. With this image in mind, imagine this habitation within the settings of sweet suburbia: white‑picket fences, perfectly kept lawns, pretty painted houses, smiling faces, cycling citizens, youngsters in the yard, and the sun shining bright—here is the heavenly utopia! No crime; no stress; this is the bliss all must aspire to—the bestowal of the American Household. But how do we construct this perfect paradise? Well, that’s simple…through the powers of American Matriarchy.

Matriarchy is a social‑order that moves by the motives of women, especially mothers. Women make the world go ‘round and mothers mold the minds of all. American Matriarchy emphasizes the woman’s role as a model of grace and duty. In order to understand matriarchy in America, we must identify the separate sphere in which all worthy women belong: the American Household. Certainly, the domestic domain is predetermined as the nurturing nest of humanity: home is where the heart is. Justly, “every myth can have its history and its geography; each is in fact the sign of the other: a myth ripens because it spreads” and contributes to the many “myths of the Order” (Barthes 149). When a myth becomes a matter of social convention, it shapes and shows how society should seem.

American Matriarchy reinforces the basics of a functional society. Mothers act as agents of ideologies based in loyalty, servility, and honor, with every lesson guided by the love of faith, family, and country: “Motivated by self-sacrificing love, and joined to one another by its cohesive power, people will perform their duties willingly and with pleasure … [in] an atmosphere of mutual confidence and good fellowship everywhere” (Tompkins). Indeed, the formative years of every individual should be set within the American Household; this is where we develop our ethical principles, contributive behavior, sound health, political positions, exceptional educations, and plans of prosperity. In fact, mothers make America: they give birth to its future—the American Dream.

For all intents and purposes, the “apron matrons” of America are masters in maintaining the ideal illusion: a picture‑perfect populace prescribed by the cares of community, courtesy, and consistency (TV Tropes). The American Household is the moral center, with American Matriarchy as its holy “minister” (Beecher, Beecher Stowe).  Logically, all mothers are made to preserve the home, produce offspring, and please their spouse—this arrangement makes sense; nevertheless, captivated by this limited sphere of power, women will tighten ranks to form and foster the foundation of a fortified nation.  Undoubtedly, the model homemaker is expected to be an ambitiously cheery conformist whose life depends upon catering to the integrity of the household, hereby including its endless occupants and objects.

Moreover, this same unit of thought establishes the American Household as the typified property of a mini‑militia; together, the unit members are equipped with the moral fortitude to defend what’s deemed socially right and proper. Stationed in suburbia, the American Household is a fort figured by constraints; it is designed to cultivate the dignified character of all its occupants. The powers of American Matriarchy are not ways of “indulging in narcissistic fantasy … or a turning away from the world into self-absorption and idle reverie”; conversely, “centering on the home … is the prerequisite of world conquest—defined as the reformation of the human race through proper care and nurturing of its young” (Tompkins).  The powers of American Matriarchy are political, in that they perpetuate a particular people: saintly soldiers regulated by a sterilized American Dream.

In America’s commitment to stripping the world of evil, matriarchal militancy establishes transformative principles into the heads and hearts of society. Henceforth, by “the training of our race . . . by means of the self-sacrificing labors of the wise and good”, the American people can thrive and help humanity as a whole (Beecher, Beecher Stowe). Fortunately, to undergo such a feat, there are guidebooks for homemakers to rule by; one such example is the vision‑plan written by Catherine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, The American Woman’s Home. Although varied by content, such domestic manuals are commonly equipped with practical advice, time‑management suggestions, holistic remedies, do‑it‑yourself activities and repairs, food and drink recipes, along with tips for proper home design and efficient execution of services. The American Household relates to the sanctity of the American system; everyone must know their role and play their part; if not, the dynamics of the home and the moral alignment of society are at risk.

“To the Women of America, in whose hands rest the real destinies of the republic”, no substitute track exists—women must fulfill their vocation and become the mothers of America’s future (Beecher, Beecher Stowe). For this reason, women secure the front lines of society’s cultural wars; figuratively, they must fight the many fights of their fate. For one thing, there is no running away from the responsibilities of marriage and motherhood because society won’t allow it; really, the option of sinful single‑life or deadly divorce is purely inconceivable. Once the American Household is made, the unit must remain intact: the husband is the head, the wife is the neck, and the progenies are condensed as the body of a fruitful future. In any case, for American Matriarchy, broken homes bring about broken identities—America is not suited to either.

Nonetheless, the domestic domain is decreed as one of necessary duties and decorous results. For American Matriarchy, efficiency is everything!  The experienced homemaker is a manufacturing machine: bearing, raising, and educating children, healing and preventing ailments, organizing and accomplishing chores, experimenting with cleaning supplies, investing in new appliances, laundering and sewing clothes, fixing food with “ornamental cookery”, and instituting rigorous spiritual devotion (Barthes 78‑80). Truly, spectacular homemaking is a business of knowledge and product; this approach is personified by contemporary figures, such as Martha Stewart, or widespread magazines, like Women’s World and Good Housekeeping. American Matriarchy embellished itself as a commodity—professionalized, preferred, and possible.

Notably, this “statement of fact” is ordained for every woman: American Matriarchy is a mandate, a moral machine of the nation, here to tend to everything and all (Barthes 154). Every woman must follow this path…there’s simply no other way. Or is there? Simply put—of course there is another way! Not all women are made for the powers of America Matriarchy. So, what happens to these rebellious rejects? Wretchedly, these women are ostracized as outsiders who threaten the threshold of the American Dream. Women belong in the home; anything opposing such a fact is unacceptable. By all means, this myth of the American Household is a relentless contraption that runs by the powers of American Matriarchy.

Markedly, what happens when the mythical powers of American Matriarchy actually surface in society? Here, in parody and in truth, I insert the revelation of the consequential community—the socially Stepfordized suburbia (TV Tropes). The Stepfordized suburbia is a place where women are a mix of brainwashed robots and mindless zombies, all of whom are molded and manipulated by their circumvented existence. Referencing the popular book and film, The Stepford Wives, we can see the petrifying powers of American Matriarchy come alive. In this contrived world, women will never be anything more than the privileged convenience of a mythical social convention.

Essentially, the Stepfordized suburbia is illustrated as a dreamland filled with lovely, docile, domesticated dolls; these women are dominated by men and they are permitted no free thought, no free expression, and no freedom away from the American Household; all the while, every man is encouraged to play with his prized trophy‑wife and prolong the fantasy. Utilizing this extreme, it is clear: as a myth of the American Household, the powers of American Matriarchy exemplify the effects of repressive regimes and unwavering philosophies, as well as the lasting impressions of those who blindly fall into their socially‑imposed roles. As if by silent expertise, these women reduce themselves to the epitome of the “Extreme Doormat”, by which they are “completely hollow inside” and “will obey just about any command”; in like manner, these women are grouped together as a body of the “Stepford Smiler”, by which they are “bright, chipper, and … all‑around pleasant [people]”; these women are “obsessed with projecting an image of wholesome happiness”; by yearning “to be accepted”, these subjected and subdued “slaves” uphold the effective prominence of this cultural myth, along with  its substantial social impact (TV Tropes).

In spite of the aforementioned effects, the powers of American Matriarchy within the American Household are often characterized in much more appealing terms. Case in point, we can see television programs that are pierced by the pleasure of the exemplary homemaker, such as June Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver or even Annie Camden from 7th Heaven; these women view motherhood as a wholesome blessing of opportunity and pride (TV Tropes). Again, what about the females who refuse such a picture‑perfect position? Can such females even be seen as women? Accordingly, no: “make no mistake: let no women believe that they can take advantage … [they must submit] to the eternal statue of womanhood. Women are on earth to give children to men … let them not depart from it” (Barthes 50).  Naturally, those who can’t fall in line are useless to America and are better off exiled.

All in all, I put forth this document as a testament to the contrary: I am a woman, I am free, and I refuse to be fettered to the fates of American Matriarchy. I advocate for those who define their destiny by pursuing their own adaptation of the American Dream; everyone should be allowed to think, speak, and act unto their own free‑will. No one should be exploited by social pressures and circumstances. In explicating “the inoculation” of this particular cultural myth, the powers of a collective system can be exposed as those which make or break a people (Barthes 150). When we become aware, we awaken alternative perspectives. As can be seen, our options must be openly offered to us; if not, our insightful capabilities are limited and we lose ourselves to the scheme of social constraints. So, whether people become liberal loners, lost lovebirds, or Stepfordized androids, the good of society is upheld by our right to write our own role; no matter how off‑beat or unconventional it may be, everyone deserves the right to their own American Dream.

Works Cited & Consulted

Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. Trans. Annette Laver. New York: Hill and Wang, 1972. Book. 2013.

Beecher, Catherine E. and Harriet Beecher Stowe. “The American Woman’s Home.” 30 September 2002. Web Page Document. October 2013. <;.

Blum, Deborah. “Both Biology and Culture Help Establish Gender Roles.” Egendor, Ed. Laura K. Male/Female Roles: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc,, 2000. 25. 2013., LLC. Web site. October 2013. <;.

Levin, Ira. The Stepford Wives. 1st. Random House, 1972. Print Novel. October 2013.

Library of Congress. Books that Shaped America. 2013. Web site. October 2013. <;.

The Stepford Wives. Dir. Bryan Forbes. 1975. DVD. October 2013.

Tompkins, Jane. “Sentimental Power: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Politics of Literary History.” 1985. Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790-1860. Oxford UP. Web Page Document. October 2013. <;.

TV Tropes. n.d. Web site. October 2013. <;.