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Various Portrayals of Motherless Characters

When thinking about the contents of The Furies and To Kill a Mockingbird, if one were to draw a connection between these two works, odds are that connection would not come in terms of thinking about the effect of the lack of mothers present throughout. However, this is one of the first similarities that I thought of and is the one that I am most interested in exploring. In both pieces, the lack of a mother is a very well-known fact, Athena is known throughout Greek Mythology for her birth from her father’s head with no maternity involved; similarly, it is known throughout Maycomb County that Jem and Scout lost their mother at a young age, leaving their father the sole responsibility of raising them. Not only are these facts well known, but in both pieces, the lack of a mother is used as a form of judgement.

In The Furies, the persecution of Orestes stems from him killing his mother. Orestes claims that he was justified in the murder of his mother because he was doing so as retribution for her killing his father; however, the furies are uninterested in his motives, as the motive does not change the outcome. When Orestes is put on trial for the murder of his mother, Apollo defends him by creating the argument that the only parent a child truly needs is their father. In order to create this argument, Apollo mentions that Athena did not have a mother, stating “…the one named mother is not the child’s true parent…I have proof that there can be a father without a mother, proof that what I say is true…The child of Zeus. She never grew in the darkness of a womb, and no goddess could have borne such a child” (657-666).

Furthermore, due to the jury being hung, Athena is given the final decision on the verdict. Athena decides to acquit Orestes of these the charges brought against him with her reasoning being, “I was born of no mother, and I defer to the male in all things with all my heart…Thus, I cannot give precedence to the woman’s death…” (736-739). In doing this, Athena contradicts the furies argument that it is necessary for individuals to have a mother in their life.

Similarly, in To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem and Scout are forced to grow up without a mother, as she died when they were young. Much like the furies believed, many citizens of Maycomb County claim that Jem and Scout are at a disadvantage because they are growing up lacking the presence of a mother. There are a multitude of instances throughout the novel where some citizens claim that Scout in particular is being raised improperly because she does not have a mother in her life teaching her how to be ladylike. However, much like Athena, Scout does perfectly fine without the influence of a mother due to the influence of her father, Calpurnia, and some of the women in her neighborhood.

Is Paulina a Reliable Character in Death and the Maiden?

            From the beginning of Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden, it is clear that Paulina is a character that has experienced some sort of a traumatic situation in her past that has permanently altered her personality. This is evident from the first mention of Paulina in the play. When she hears a car approaching her house, she instantly becomes worrisome, “She hurriedly stands up, goes to the other room, looks out the window… goes to the sideboard, takes out a gun, stops when the motor is turned off and she hears Gerardo’s voice” (2). Dorfman makes Paulina’s harrowing past even more prominent when she and Gerardo discuss his offer from the President, “Nobody in the new government knows. I’m talking about the fact that we never made it public, as you never—as we never denounced the things that they—what they…” (6).

            Paulina then goes on to capture Roberto (15), a man whom her husband trusted enough to not only willingly offer him solace in their guest room for the night- but insisted that he stay there, as he declares “I won’t hear of it. You’re staying. You’re what? You’re half an hour away… Not another word” (13). This action, in accordance with Paulina’s paranoia and distressed nature, seems to strongly imply that Paulina may suffer from some form of mental instability; which Roberto does suggest claiming, “I do not know you, madam. I have never seen you before in my life. But I can tell you this: you are extremely ill, almost prototypically schizoid” (23). At which point I found myself agreeing with him and generally believing that Paulina was just unstable and becoming unhinged; which very well may have been Dorfman’s intentions in making Paulina seem to be of such unsound mind.

            The point at which I found myself beginning to agree with and fully believe Paulina’s accusation against Roberto came when she tells Gerardo that she recognizes more than just Roberto’s voice, “It’s not only the voice I recognize, Gerardo. I also recognize the skin. And the smell. Gerardo. I recognize his skin” (27). In situations such as Paulina’s, victims are taught to memorize as many details of their captors and surroundings as possible; therefore, it is highly plausible that Paulina could not mistake these aspects because they have been engrained into her memory. Furthermore, Paulina inserted slight variations in her story to Gerardo knowing that he would use that for Roberto’s confession; thus, proving that Roberto was, in fact, guilty- as he corrected all of her discrepancies (45). Not only does this prove Roberto’s guilt, it also proves Paulina’s reliability as a character.

Who Is The Intended Audience of The Declaration of Independence?

In history classes, in my personal experience, students have always been taught that the Declaration of Independence was written by the Founding Fathers in order to inform the British Monarchy, specifically King George, that the colonies intended to break away from British rule and form their own independent and free-standing country. For years students have accepted this synopsis as undisputable fact; however, the language of the document suggests various motives behind its creation.

The word choices in the first full paragraph seem to uphold the above theory of the Declaration’s creation, as the first sentence of the paragraph in reference reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” (DOI); this language, specifically in an opening sentence, does seem to imply that the purpose of this document is the establish the Colonists as citizens of a country that is no longer controlled by the Monarchy. In using the word “we”, the Founding Fathers established the Colonists as a group of people completely separated from the citizens of Britain, and as a governmental force under the control of no people but its own; the repeated use of words such as “they” and “their” throughout this paragraph also uphold this argument. Furthermore, the statement “…Right of the People…” (DOI) not only distinguishes the rights of the people in reference from those belonging to the people of Great Britain, but the capitalization of the word “People” turns this word into a proper noun referring only to a specific group.

The section of the document that causes me to begin questioning whether or not King George was this intended audience comes directly after the aforementioned paragraph. One would be under the impression that if the Declaration was written with King George as the intended audience, it would have been written in second person using the pronoun “you”; however, the word “you” does not appear in the Declaration at all. Furthermore, when the document begins to list King George’s “…history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States” (DOI), the pronoun of choice is a repeated “he”, thus suggesting that the audience in mind for this document was not actually King George, but the other established nations of the world to create awareness and understanding behind the colonists reasons for revolutionizing.