Intention: The intention of this piece is to emphasize the unrealistic expectations society has for women once they are married.
Ethos: Brady begins this essay by making an appeal to ethos, “I belong to that classification of people known as wives. I am a Wife. And, not altogether incidentally, I am a mother.” This appeal to ethos suggests that Brady understands the stereotypes that are placed on wives because she may have experienced them firsthand. By capitalizing the word “Wife”, Brady also implies that this title takes away from a person’s identity—rather than being a loving equal to a husband, a wife is considered to be a servant. The deliberate diction in this quote, as portrayed in the word choice “classification” when describing her role as a wife, forces her audience to grasp the extent of the effects of societal stereotypes on women.
Delivery: The intentional repetition of the phrase, “I want a wife,” creates parallel sentence structure throughout the entire piece. Brady describes an extensive list of duties of a wife that demonstrates the dismal and laborious reality of wives and mothers. This list includes, “I want a wife who will work and send me to school, take care of my children, take care of my physical needs, keep my house clean, cook the meals and do the necessary grocery shopping,” etc. By arranging this list that spans six paragraphs, Brady effectively demonstrates society’s unrealistic expectations and the benefits a husband receives for having a dutiful wife.
Persona: Brady establishes a melodramatic persona to emphasize the negative societal standards women are held to. Brady uses calculated diction, utilizing the repetitive phrase, “my wife”, and refusing to use “she” to describe the persona’s ‘wife’ to imply that a wedded woman no longer has the same dignity as an unmarried woman. Also, by emphasizing the preposition, “my”, Brady insinuates that a woman’s husband is the recipient of all positive outcomes that are derived from the wife’s work. This is memorable because Brady created this deliberate persona to appeal to her audience. The line, “I want a wife who will not bother me with rambling complaints about a wife’s duties,” appeals to pathos because it reveals the ludicrousness of the husband’s expectations. This appeal to pathos creates a reaction from the audience and emphasizes Brady’s intention for this piece.
This piece is not meant to be taken seriously, it is satirical. Brady overexaggerates the duties that a wife performs so that her point easily captures our attention. The way an ideal wife is described includes her doing multiple tasks at the same, being a perfect hostess, and only caring about the needs and wellbeing of her husband. However, Brady’s dramatic methods are very effective. When beginning this essay, it can be very offensive if you are not aware that it is satire. This is the exact effect the author intends; she wants you to be angered by the extreme expectations of wives.
Brady also emphasizes her point in subtle ways. Throughout the piece, she never uses personal pronouns when referring to her wife. Every time she uses “my wife” or “a wife” when “she” or “her” would be much more appropriate and less repetitive. By continually saying “wife” instead of a name or pronoun, Brady is drawing distance between herself and her wife. It shows that she does not view her wife in a personal manner and towards the end, it can be easy to forget that her wife is an actual person. This method stresses the point that some wives are viewed as slaves or possessions, something to obtain but not worry about.
Audience: Anyone can read this piece but it is specifically directed towards feminists in the 1970’s. For feminists who are married, it backs up their ideas that they are equal to their husbands and deserve to be treated respectfully. For those who are not married, it provides them some insight so that they make sure to marry a man who respects and treats them with dignity.
The intention of this piece is to demonstrate to readers that the societal and household expectations for how married women should behave are unjust and should be changed.
Brady makes effective use of contrast in this piece. At one point, she says, “I want a wife who will not bother me with rambling complaints about a wife’s duties. But I want a wife who will listen to me when I feel the need to explain a rather difficult point I have come across in my course of studies.” These sentences exhibit a stark contrast between the expectations for the wife and the speaker. The wife is expected not to complain about her life but to still be a good listener for the speaker’s complaints. This contrast is an example, possibly even from Brady’s life, that allows the reader to see how vastly unequal marriage is for the two partners.
One memorable quote from this piece is, “Not too long ago a male friend of mine appeared on the scene fresh from a recent divorce. He had one child, who is, of course, with his ex-wife. He is obviously looking for another wife.” By saying that their child is, “of course,” with the mother, the author is making a generalization that all children of divorced parents live with their moms. This subtly indicates to readers that the woman is always in charge of the childcare duties, and the use of the words “of course” adds a bitter tone that may cause the reader to be annoyed by that fact. The statement that the man was “obviously looking for another wife” is also notable in this quote because it causes readers to wonder why it should be obvious that he is doing so. These two parts of this quote set the reader up to be more open to Brady’s intention that the life of a wife is unjust.
This whole piece works as an appeal to pathos. The endless list of duties that the speaker expects her wife to do would resonate with an audience who was accustomed to being responsible for those same tasks. Readers may feel a personal connection to their own marriages and feel hurt that they are only wanted for the tasks that they are continually forced to do.
Tone: Brady’s tone is obviously very bitter. She is upset at the fact that she even has to say these things and point out why most men even wanted a wife, not for love, but for housework and sexual pleasure.
Syllogism: As Brady begins this piece, she immediately sets up a Major Premise, stating that all wives are inferior and will do whatever they’re told. Her Minor Premise stated that it’s nice to have a wife because you don’t have to do anything too laborious. Her conclusion is the end result, stating that she wants a wife because she doesn’t want to have to do anything difficult.
Repetition: The repetition of the phrase “I want a wife” is known as Climax Repetition. It enhances the importance of the phrase and therefore gives it more power.
Brady begins by explaining that she, herself, is a wife, and “not altogether incidentally, … a mother.” This gives her ethos in the essay, because she knows what a wife is supposed to be. To show her intention, Brady relies heavily on memory in her essay. In the time this essay was written, the family was a major part of American society, and it was common for the wife to stay home to take care of the family. Brady expects readers to come to her essay with subconscious knowledge of the social expectations of women in a marriage.
Brady begins to explain why she would want a wife by listing some simple, day-to-day tasks that a wife would usually do, such as making sure “children eat properly and are kept clean… arrange for their schooling, and make sure that they have an adequate social life.” These requests seem reasonable and allow the reader to easily agree that having someone to do these things would be a great benefit to their lives. The speaker gradually makes the demands more intense and ends her list with a discussion on what her wife will offer her sexually. She “wants a wife who will not demand sexual attention,” “assume the complete responsibility for birth control,” and “remain sexually faithful,” even if she “may require more than strict adherence to monogamy. [She] must, after all, be able to relate to people as fully as possible.” This line is wildly hypocritical, and leaves the reader angry with what wives are expected to be.
Throughout the essay Brady objectifies the concept of a wife. Her tone is mechanical, and makes a wife seem to be almost a material thing that one could purchase at the supermarket. She never truly refers to a wife as a person or uses the pronoun “she.” She refers to her wife simply as “my wife,” to the point of redundancy. At one point in the essay, Brady says, “My wife will arrange and pay for the care of the children while my wife is working.” This sentence does not sound natural; however, it solidifies the idea that a wife is an object and takes the humanity away from the concept.