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"Courtship Through The Ages"By James Thurber , Female Dominance Or Male Failure?

1291 words - 5 pages

Female Dominance or Male Failure? James Thurber illustrates the male species' status with respect to, "Courtship Through The Ages" with a humorous and melancholic tone. He emphasizes the lack of success males experience through courtship rituals and the constant rejection we endure. Our determination of courting the female with all our "love displays" may be pointless as it is evident in the repetitive failures of courtship by all male creatures. Thurber shares his problems with courtship and the role which men portray, he explores the relationship between nature and culture, and the demands culture places on men. Thurber's frustration with the female species is obvious and is reflected throughout his essay. The extremities males endure to obtain female attention become overwhelming and incomprehensible to Thurber, consequently conflicting with the myth and construction of the ideal of masculinity. Thurber's frustrations with women are evident right from the start. He displaces male insubordination to the blueprint of nature and it's "complicated musical comedy." (Rosengarten and Flick, 340) It's interesting that he attributes nature as a female creator and thus justifying the relationship that "none of the females of any species she created cared very much for the males." (p 340) Thurber compares the similarities of courtship to the complicated works of Encyclopedia Brittanica. A book which is full of wonders and within lies mysteries of the unknown and unpredictable. In comparison to the Encyclopedia Brittanica the female is alike in many ways, such as its perfect construction and orderly appearance seeming as if they replicate one another like a clone. I believe Thurber views all female species as being similar to one another with respect to their character. The author also associates courtship as a business, a show business. A world which is chaotic, disorderly and full of confusion much like nature. It is an aggressive competition between genders in which mother nature dominates. He also attributes the similarity of constructed rules and regulations in need of much guidance with the help of a hand manual. Culture also places demands on males. Males who are lacking in outer appearance and sexual appeal try to diminish their faults by acquiring gifts "to win her attention... and bring her candy, flowers, and the furs of animals" (p 340) for the lady in courting. Women's refusals became men's burden which laid heavily on their shoulders in the social relationship. "These 'love displays' were being constantly turned down, insulted, or thrown out of the house." (p 340) This produced the evident exhaustion of the male species such as the "fiddler crab who had been standing on tip-toe for eight or ten hours waving a heavy claw in the air is in pretty bad shape." (p 342) Thurber trivializes the easily bored female, which leads to actions that seek her attention. "Men had to go in for somersaults, tilting and...

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