Frailty Thy Name Is Woman Essay

Man and woman are the two halves of a perfect whole. Strength is born of their union, their separation results but in weakness. Each has what the other has not; each completes the other and is completed by the other. They are, says Ruskin, in nothing alike, and the happiness and perfection of both depend on each asking and receiving from the other what the other only can give. Etymologically, the word ‘woman’ means ‘the half-self of man’. In the Bible, God is said to have fashioned Eve out of a bone from Adam’s side, not from his head or his foot, which indicates that woman is on an equality with man.

The comic poet Aristophanes once sprang a great surprise on the distinguished company of Athenian philosophers that had to gather for dinner at the house of Plato, by giving his brand new theory about woman and love. In the olden days, he said, the two sexes were united into one body. This body was round like a ball, with four hands, four feet, and two faces. It moved about with amazing rapidity, using its eight limbs like the spokes of a wheel in a continual series if somersaults. Terrible was the strength of this race of man-woman, and boundless was their ambition. They were planning to scale the heaven’s and to attack the gods when Zeus hit upon a happy plan, ‘Let us cut them into two’, he said, ‘and they then will have only half their strength and we shall have twice as many sacrifices’. And so he split them apart into male and female, and from that day onward the two-halves of the once united body has been consumed with a longing to be re-united into one. And this longing for the re-union of the sexes is what we call love. Though this story is a mere figment of comic imagination, it has a great truth to tell. · Man and woman, in their united state, can conquer any height of glory. They are power incarnate.

Nevertheless, a man in his pride and selfishness has from age to age kept woman in bondage and addressed her as ‘Frailty’. The orthodox people have accused her of treachery, of backbiting and of tempting men to their doom. The whole of Christian Europe has been brought upon the belief that death would have been unknown but for the unkindness of woman. It was on the instigation of Eve that Adam ate of the forbidden fruit of knowledge and consequently brought eternal suffering on himself and his descendants. According to Schopenhauer, love for the fair’ sex is a farce. It leads but to the perpetuation of the whole want and drudgery of the human race. How any man could give he wonders, “the name of fair sex to that undersized, narrow-shouldered, broad-hipped, and short-legged race called a woman. Rousseau observes, “Women are created only to please men. Being incapable of judging for themselves they must always abide by the judgment of their fathers and their husbands. Meredith remarks in one of his very famous novels, “I expect that woman will be the last thing civilized by man. Similar is the view that Tennyson has expressed in the following lines

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“Man if the hunter; woman is his same

The sleek and shining creatures of chase;

We hunt them for the beauty of their skins;

They love us for it, and we ride them down,

Wheedling and siding with them.”

While the orthodox condemn, women as the source of all vices, the romanticists adore them as fairies and angels. The latter regard them as the basis of all kinds of artistic inspiration and consider them even as the instruments of spiritual realization. To Keats, for example, Truth is but Beauty and this beauty consists in

Light feet, dark violet eyes, and parted hair,

Soft dimpled hands, white neck, and creamy breast.

Similarly, Spenser is inspired by the beauty of his bride and speaks exultingly of

“Her cheeks like apples which the sun hath rudded,

Her lips like cherries charming men to bite,

Her breast like to a bowl of cream uncrụdded

Her paps like lilies budded

Her snowy neck like to a marble tower.

And all her body like a palace fair

Ascending up, with many a stately stair.

To honours seat and chastity’s sweet bower.”

However, both the orthodox and romantic views ignore the essential human qualities of woman, they regard her merely as a name, a figure or symbol, not as a being in flesh and blood subject to the same virtues and weaknesses, triumphs and failures, as her male counterpart. In fact, a woman is neither ‘a well of vices’ nor a golden-haired doll’, man’s plaything or an ornament to decorate his drawing-rooms, clubs, and theatres. “Remember”, “that a woman was your mother before a woman became your life.” How absurd and ungraceful it is to say

“Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter,

Sermons and soda-water the day after.

The gratification of sex impulse is not like taking a cup of coffee or a glass of soda-water. True love results in affection and friendship. It is not merely flame meeting flame but a spirit calling to a spirit. The love of woman, whether she is a wife, or a mother, or a sister, or a daughter, is a great power that saves man from distress and despair and gives him renewed zeal and strength to continue the struggle of life. As a “black lady” she was the centre of Shakespeare’s immortal sonnets; as a “lady with the lamp” she was the ray of hope and comfort to a multitude of the sick and afflicted; as mother she was the creator of devoted patriots, and a sister she gave: Wordsworth eyes to see and ears to hear the hidden beauties of nature. Geniuses like Kalidas, conquerors like Napoleon, scientists like Michael Faraday and many other world-makers and world-forsakers bear witness to the important part played by love of a woman in their lives. A woman was the centre of conflict between Rama and Ravana in the Ramayan and the Trojan War was fought for the possession of a woman. The impulse of love is the fire at the heart of life itself; it is the voice of all creativeness. Many have missed achieving their life’s work, worthy of their talents for lack of a beloved’s presence by their side: Rightly does Frederick Reynolds say.

“As for the women, though we scom and flout’em,

We may live, but cannot without them.”

The Divinia Commedia was inspired by the love that Dante treasured for Beatrice, even when she had become the wife of another. Beethoven poured out his rhapsodies to the “immortal beloved” and Sidney’s celebrated sonnets are but a’ glorification of his love he bore for Stella. A poet writes, “When the sky is overcast with clouds, the path of the future lies through a thick forest, and when we are utterly alone in darkness without a single ray of light, when all around are difficulties, we place ourselves in the hands of a loving woman.

The foundation of the social and political life of any country is the family, and the center of this family is the woman. Men make houses, but women make homes. In the home which is woman’s dues here, she relieves the tedium of life, sheds divine light in the darkness. and alleviates distress. As a dutiful mother doing her duties by he children, making them happy, healthy and intelligent citizens, as faithful wife bringing joy and solace and inspiration to the husband as an affectionate daughter, bringing joy and comfort to the father and as a sister nobly inspiring her brother, she ministers in a variety of ways to the well-being of man, making him fit not only for the life at home but also for the wider life outside. The joy which is at the root of all activities is supplied from home, and the woman is its fountain-head. With this joy and energy begotten of it, men go on working hard in the field, farming laws and institutions, and bettering the hot of humanity. Above all, it is the duty of woman to bring up children, and the children of today are the citizens of tomorrow. The character of a child is made or marred by the capacity . or incapacity of the mother. It is in this sense that the hand that rocks he cradle rules the world. Like a potter, the hand of the mother can .nake a god of devil and a devil of god from the same lump of clay.

Lightly did Napoleon say,

“Give me good mothers and I will give ou a good nation.”

It is by serving the family that a woman serves a social and political life. If the aim of life is service, and if the North of a woman be judged by the faithful performance of the Duties assigned to her, there would be no question of women coming into politics and realizing themselves through political life. It is only when the polestar of duty is lost sight of and life becomes a scramble, or interests, rights and privileges that women are prompted to leave their husbands and children at home to guard what they call their special interests at the polling booth or in the council chamber.

However, it does not mean that women should be confined within the four walls of the house and that social and political activities should be kept as forbidden fruit for them. Some people think that “man is for the field, woman for home man for the sword and for needle she, man to command and woman to obey.” Euripides writes, “A. woman should be good for everything at home jut abroad good for nothing.” Another writer observes, “A woman’s name should appear in print but twice-when she marries and when he dies.” But this is altogether a wrong view and we have a number f instances to give the lie to it Rulers like Queen Elizabeth and Victorian England, and Chand Bibi and Razia Begum in India sub-continent prove that women can govern a nation as successfully as men. It is remarkable that the reign of every woman administrator was singularly prosperous and fruitful. Think of the progress that art and culture made during the age of Elizabeth-to name only one woman. Not only women have been great rulers, they have been also great fighters. The courage with which the Rani of Jhansi fought, in the Indian Mutiny or the inspiring lead Joan of Are gave to her soldiers are well known historical facts. The noble and human work done by Florence Nightingale, the “lady with the lamp” would ever be gratefully remembered by Englishmen. Novelists like Jane Ausny, Mrs. Gaskell, Rose Macaulay, and Virginia Wolfe show how they can beat men on their own ground. Poets like Mrs. Browning and Christina Rossetti in England, have proved that the Muse is not the sole monopoly of men. In fact, there is not a single sphere of human life and activity which woman has not touched and which she has left unadorned. Kate Field writes in his poem “Woman’s Sphere”

“There’s not a place in earth or heaven.

There’s not a tank to mankind given.

There’s not a blessing or a woe, there’s not a whispered”

‘yes’ or ‘no”

There’s not a life or death or birth that has a feather’s weight or worth

Without a woman in it….. “

Indirectly women are the real builders of our nation and without their active co-operation at all points of progress, all our congresses and conferences are in vain. It is said, “Educate women and the nation will take charge of itself, for it is today, as it was yesterday and will be to the end of human life that the hand that rocks the cradle is the power that rules the world.” The progress and decline of a nation depend upon the position that it gives to its women, great French idealist, Charles Fourier once said, “One could judge the degree of the civilization of a country by the social and political position of its women.” It is a curious lesson of history that whenever in any country women’s powers have been recognized and given expression that country has risen politically. In Pakistan the emancipation of women has gone hand in hand with political freedom: A nation reaches its highest cultural level only when the women in it are free, as for example in ancient Greece, and England in the days of Queen Elizabeth. Whenever women ve denied freedom, a country goes down culturally and politically. Such was the case in Pakistan till recently. In the United States of America, women have always held a high position and in fact, they have far more freedom than even the men. That may be one reason why America is at present the most democratic country in the world.

In the present age of storm and struggle, the influence of women on politics is bound to produce healthy effects. The special qualities of a woman are grace and tenderness, peace and affection, surrender and sacrifice. Brutality, violence, anger, hatred are not her typical qualities. And it’ she is allowed to rule the world, she will bring life in place of death, substitute hatred with love, and manly cruelty with womanly gentleness. She will play a role of great importance in ending war. The creator of the human race will prove its saviour also. Tagore has wisely observed, “At the present stage of history civilization is almost exclusively masculine a civilization of power in which woman has been trusted aside in the shade. Therefore, it has lost its balance and it is moving by hopping from war to war.. Its motive forces are the forces of destruction, and its ceremonials are carried through by an appalling number of human sacrifices. This one-sided civilization is crashing along a series of catastrophes at a tremendous speed because of its one-sidedness. And at last time has arrived when woman must step in and impart her life rhythm to this reckless movement of power.

Both at home and abroad, woman is the great unpaid teacher of man. The Zulu dictionary defines man as an animal trained by a woman. She is essentially the educator of man, both when he is a child and as an adult. Without the love and affection of woman man is but a brute and beast. Thomas Oțway writes:

“O woman!-lovely woman! Nature made thee

To temper man; we had been brutes without you.”

But in their zest for social and political activities, the woman should not lose their essential womanly qualities, as they are doing today. Under the lure of Western culture, they are today drifting farther from their domestic duties and consequently losing their essential womanliness. They are losing sight of their real ornaments which are delicacy and modesty. Often they think that there is a wide gulf between their interests and men. What a great delusion this is, as Tennyson discovered long ago,

The Woman’s cause is Man’s

They rise and sink toner

In fact, a woman is made not to compete with but to aid and ..advise man, she does not enter into a conflict but resolves it. Her functions have been different from those of man and her esteem depends on the care and skill with which she performs them. It is true that she is free to take part in the social and political activities of the country, but at the same time she should not neglect her domestic duties. She is the founder of the home and the home is the cornerstone of government, of social relationship, and of business, therefore, care first for home, and then for anything else. It is through the home that she can serve the larger interests of the community, the nation or the world better than man. She must have all the rights that man has but not the right of killing the home of which she is the sole governor. As a Professor writes,

“Educate women by all means, make them healthier and stronger, kill ignorance and superstition, but do not bring them into the eddy of politics and destroy the home.”

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