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Jonathan Swifts "The Ladys Dressing Room"

1159 words - 5 pages

Strephon's Punishment for His Method of Reading in "The Lady's Dressing Room"In Greek mythology, Pandora, a stunningly beautiful mortal, is created to punish man for his disobedience to Zeus, the supreme ruler of the Greek gods. When given a box that she is forbidden to open, Pandora cannot resist satisfying her curiosity about the contents of the box and opens it, releasing all evil into the world and leaving hope at the bottom of the box. Similarly, in Jonathan Swift's "The Lady's Dressing Room," Strephon's curiosity about the contents of Celia's dressing room causes him to open the door, examine all the details of the room, and interpret their reflection of the "Goddess" (3) Celia's character. He consequently releases from the image of beautiful women the evils of scabs and excrement left over from the preparations of this woman, who is a "Goddess" in his mind. Strephon is left blind to the hope in the potential beauty and life growing from this filth and excrement in Celia's beauty, only to associate women with the dressing room's odors and, likewise, to associate odors with women. Essentially, because Strephon is unable to resist his desire to discern the process behind Celia's beauty and chooses not to leave this process a mystery, Vengeance punishes him by destroying his image of women that he rightfully deserves.Strephon's desire to reveal the mystery behind Celia's beauty causes him to search her void dressing room, invading her privacy and consequently meriting punishment. Because "Five Hours, (and who can do it less in?) by haughty Celia spent in dressing" (1-2), Strephon's curiosity gets the best of him and encourages him to find the reason for the beauty of the "Goddess" (3). While he reads, or examines, the details of the room, "No object Strephon's eye escapes" (47), and each object is filthy to him. As though he could not have enough disgust for this dressing room, "Strephon ventured to look in, resolved to go through thick and thin" (79-80), releasing from this "Pandora's Box"(83) - the toilet, "a sudden universal crew of humane evils" (85-86). Strephon therefore satisfies his curiosity about Celia's dressing room, but because he chooses to invade her privacy, he is suddenly exposed to all the revolting remains that Celia leaves after the elaborate process of transforming herself into a goddess. Vengeance consequently thinks he deserves to be punished for desiring to reveal the mystery of Celia's beauty.Strephon also reads the vulgar dressing room as a reflection of Celia's faults, and in doing so; Vengeance rightly punishes him for being judgmental. Strephon, only seeing all the scabs and dirt in the room, does not get to know Celia and her true personality. Unlike other men, Strephon "swears how damnably the men lie, in calling Celia sweet and cleanly" (17-18), largely because the other men choose to leave the process behind her physical beauty a mystery. In addition, Strephon, who should not have been in Celia's room in the...

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