The Rajahs Of The Western Worl

1604 words - 6 pages

The Rajahs of the Western World My mother, who grew up in Sri Lanka, was shocked to hear the way I dealt with my boyfriend on the telephone. She proceeded to give me a talk on how a woman should achieve what she wants through womanly means and that it is imperative for every relationship that the stereotypical gender roles are at least superficially preserved. Indeed, she told me that this was the only way a relationship could survive. This fluttering around men is something every female does starting with the father and the brothers and later the husband - in Sri Lanka, at least twenty years ago, every man is a rajah, a prince, in his house. Having lived in Austria I would have said this is not the case here, however, when one takes time to study people it becomes clear that although both legal and social rules may be liberal, there are still many relationships that are based on the concept of spoiling the man.The reason I am addressing this topic is because it features very prominently in both Ibsen's The Wild Duck and Miller's Death of a Salesman; although both plays centre around Hialmar Ekdal and Willy Loman respectively, it is not their strength that their families rely on. Although both fancy themselves as the successful breadwinners it is their wives who make ends meet - yet all is done so that Hialmar and Willy can believe and live in their dreams: they are the mollified husbands.Although Hialmar was spoilt by his aunts who took care of him, it seems that both he and Willy got used to being mollified by their wives. The personality of Gina and Linda are much the same. They both love their husbands and try to manage their affairs so that they do not worry the men. Gina and Linda both do the accounts in the house remembering payments and loans and try to make the money they have last for as long as possible, even if this means denying themselves something; as Hedvig says to her mother when they are talking about saving "but then you and I didn't need anything hot for dinner as father was out". Of the two wives, Gina has to do more as Hialmar does not even work himself but lets Gina or Hedvig 'help him' while he works on his invention.The invention of Hialmar can be compared to the dreams of Willy to be successful; it is built on false hopes but it is something to look forward to. Happy tells Biff that Willy is at his happiest when looking forward to something and this is true of Hialmar too - Gina listens to Hialmar talk about the great invention he is working on and Linda dreams with Willy about opening his own business 'someday'. This seems to be a key word in both their lives as the present reality is transformed by their wives and children for them into what they want to see.Gina and Linda not only run the house smoothly they also motivate their husbands by listening to them and telling him how wonderful they are. When Hialmar relates how Werle's dinner was he changes the facts so that he is presented in a good light; he claims to have...

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