William Kadash 5 Oct 2014 Dr. Bertram, HUM 300
Whos 'Got the Power?
My essay is comparing the theme of masculinity being an indicator of the power a
woman has in a relationship. In both the short story by Hemingway, and the poem by Adrienne Rich, the reader can see that when a man has "masculinity" he controls the power in the relationship during the era in which these are written.
Masculinity can be defined as the possession of the qualities traditionally associated with men. These qualities are typically defined by a society's norms and gender roles. In the early 1900s the role of women was that of the weaker sex, which in turn led to women being dominated by men. SInce women were seen as a weaker sex, men had to express "masculine" qualities in order to keep their dominance over women. What would happen if a man expressed cowardliness qualities in a relationship or marriage? Would he lose that dominance over the woman? Would the woman have more power in the relationship? The theme in both the short story The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway and the poem Aunt Jennifer's Tigers by Adrienne Rich answer these questions. Both are written in the early to mid 1900s, and both present this idea that masculinity has a profound consequence on the power in relationships. These authors are both suggesting that a women's power in a relationship and/or marriage is heavily influenced by the husband's level of masculinity.
In the early reading of Hemingway's short story the reader gains the knowledge that the main character, Francis Macomber, showed "unmasculine" or "cowardly" character traits while on a hunt in the plains of South Africa. During the hunt, a wounded lion needing to be killed lingered in the high grass. Upon the emergence of the charging lion, Macomber sprinted away in fear of the lion attacking him. This cowardly action was met by disrespect, and utter rudeness by his wife Margot. Due to this action of cowardliness, Macomber lost all respect and dominance over his wife. This can be seen through her actions and attitude towards her husband Francis throughout the story. These actions and this attitude shown towards Macomber become evident to Robert Wilson, their hunting guide, quite early in the story, "So, Robert Wilson thought to himself, she is giving him a ride, isn't she? Or do you suppose that's her idea of putting up a good show? How should a woman act when she discovers her husband is a bloody coward? She's damn cruel but they're all cruel." (Hemingway, 5). The cruelness and disrespect of Margot to Macomber resulting from Macomber's cowardly actions becomes blatant enough for other characters in the story to notice. These attitudes towards Macomber is contradictory to the "prototypical" marriage hierarchy during the time this story was written. During this era, the husband had much power over his spouse, and if the spouse acted in the way that Margot acts in this story, there would be consequences. However,...