Final - Pham 1 Kaitlin Pham Professor David Hennessee...

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Pham 1 Kaitlin Pham Professor David Hennessee English 231-01 6 December 2011 Men: Convincing or Cowards? Growing up in a household with a single mother, I never once thought about having a man order me around. However, once my mother remarried, the independent and comfortable lifestyle I had grown accustomed to became morphed into an unfamiliar and rule-ridden household based on rank and gender. In Vietnamese culture, the male is automatically considered the head of the household, the face of the family. The transition of moving from a fairly lax and woman-dominant dynamic to one with rules and structure caused discomfort and tore relationships between all members of my family. The hierarchical systems that were imposed in the household gave my stepfather a sense of entitlement: he could do what he want, say what he want, and regard all things the way he wanted and forced us to think the same. Similarly, in Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess”, Browning discusses how men’s patriarchic role in society provides this false sense of self-entitlement. He suggests that men’s position as head of the family authorizes them to control all aspects of their lives, more specifically concerning their relationships with women. Browning displays this through the curtain surrounding the painting of the Duchess, the Duke’s twisted regards towards his late wife, and the Duke’s masked insecurities. The Duke’s need for control over the painting of his departed Duchess utilized with a curtain proves his desire for power. The Duchess was painted and placed on the
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Pham 2 wall: she is depicted smiling, and the painter has succeeded in depicting the Duchess as if she were alive. This smile was what the Duke liked the most about the painting—he feels that the painter accurately captured the smile and the vivacity of the Duchess. He purchased the painting, and has placed it behind a curtain. As he spoke to a messenger about the painting of his now deceased wife, the Duke casted himself in a favorable light and presented his best side by showing the messenger the painting. He wanted to make it seem as if he deeply loved her by having such a fine piece of art placed on his wall. The reader learns that this is not the case when learning the Duke’s true intentions of the
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Final - Pham 1 Kaitlin Pham Professor David Hennessee...

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