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Women In The Book Of Ruth

1257 words - 5 pages

Women in the Book of Ruth

Women are often trapped in an essentially idle, domestic role,
praised for purity and lack of sexual desire, pampered as ornaments, but
given no effective life functions other than demonstrating a few social
graces and bearing children, as is established by the Judeo-Christian ethic
and is reinforced in the story of Ruth. Though the story of Ruth appears in
the Old Testament, its relevance is not limited by its datedness, but serves
as a direct parallel to the predicament of the modern woman. Though
Christianity no longer dominates so visibly as it did prior to secularization
and modernization, its remains a strong undercurrent in that its influence
is still felt in contemporary Western society. Likewise, in the story of Ruth,
God is not a physical presence but is felt in the affected decisions Ruth
makes and in the path her life takes. Ideals still prevalent in society today
are drawn from the male-dominated Christian ethic. Thus, God plays a
more subdued, but at the same time no less powerful role both in society
today and in the story of Ruth. This is evidenced in Ruth's decision to stay
with her mother-in-law upon the death of her husband. Ruth does this not
according to her own desires, of which none are made known to the reader,
but rather acts upon the desires of God, man, and society in accordance to
what has been deemed "right". The decision to remain with her
mother-in-law, then, is not only a symbol of acting upon theJudeo-Christian
ethic, but also of women's dependence under that ethic. A mother is
ultimately the person on whom a child is raised to depend, so it is not
insignificant that, when robbed of a man on whom to depend, Ruth turns
not only to a mother figure, but to the mother of her husband, a male
figure. “..for wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will
lodge...wherever you die, I will die..” (Ruth, 1:16) In this way the story of
Ruth reveals that under the Judeo-Christian ethic both ancient and modern
women cannot be revolutionary or independent as society has
predetermined standards, inflicted by that same Judeo-Christian ethic,
which must be adhered to. Both Ruth and modern women are faced with a
similar predicament: to resolve the conflict between passion and
independence, and responsibility and loyalty as outlined by a
Judeo-Christian society.
This conflict is resolved for both Ruth and the modern woman by the
elimination of awareness of personal desire and the total assimilation into
the culture. Whether through nature or nurture, women are able to step
outside themselves in an attempt to be objective, objectivity being defined
as seeing with the eyes of society which is falsely assumed to be in a
natural and unbiased state. Thus, in stepping outside of themselves,
women are attempting to see themselves as society sees them. It is for this
reason that Ruth is presented as being without personal desire and is a
fairly mundane...

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