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Under Milk Wood Essay, Research Paper
The relationship between Tom and Maggie in Books 1 & 2
I think most of the problems with Tom and Maggie’s relationship are due to the fact that Tom thinks that females are inferior to males. He therefore thinks that Maggie is inferior to him and he shows this in the way that he treats Maggie.
Tom and Maggie both have a strong relationship with their father so therefore he could have influenced Tom’s thoughts. “She’ll fetch none the bigger price for that”, their dad said this, and by it he means that even though Maggie is clever she won’t do any better as regards to marriage. This is a very sexist way for Tom and Maggie’s dad to talk about Maggie, as if females are only supposed to get married and produce children and that their intelligence doesn’t matter.
If Tom’s dad thinks like that it could be from his dad that Tom gets his sexist nature: “I told you girls couldn’t learn Latin”, this is one of the most openly sexist comments Tom makes in the book. Tom very strongly gets his point across by using harsh words such as “told” and “couldn’t”. This shows how inferior he feels females are, he said, “I told you” almost scornfully as if he’s trying to say that if he said it, it must be right which isn’t the case. Tom’s complete sexist attitude is shown by the word “girls” here he generalises about any females ability to learn Latin although I’m sure that isn’t the case and he just makes the comment purely because of his sexist nature.
Tom’s sexism isn’t just used against his sister, he uses it to put others down as well, “like a girl’s: Tom thought that truly pitiable”. The sexism Tom is showing here is by discriminating against Philip due to his hair apparently looking like a girls. He describes this as “truly pitiable” which shows how strongly he feels. Tom uses the word “girl” as an insult as if by calling Philip a girl he feels he has insulted him. This is a very sexist attitude, as he shouldn’t be discriminating against females in this way.
Whenever Maggie acts in a way that Tom wouldn’t, Tom automatically says she acts in that way, as she is a girl, “girlish way of taking things”. This quotation is where Maggie gets agitated and Tom blames that on the fact that she’s a girl. Tom doesn’t think that boys get agitated, but girls do due to their inferior status. He said Maggie took it in a “girlish way” which is probably not the case, it’s just the fact that Maggie doesn’t hide her feelings. As Tom does hide his feelings he treats Maggie’s not hiding her feelings as a fault, he does this as he feels everything he does is correct and anyone who does something different to him is wrong. Tom blames the difference in his and Maggie’s characters on the fact that Maggie is a girl.
Tom puts all girls into the same category; he has a prejudice against some females before he has even met them, “all girls were silly”. Tom says “all” meaning every single girl, he doesn’t know every girl so he can’t really say “all girls” which is where his prejudice against females is clearly shown.
I think that Tom’s sexist comments had some effect on Maggie’s personality, “Tom must be right”, here Maggie doesn’t say Tom could be right, she says that Tom ” must” be right as if she is saying that just because Tom is saying it that it is right. Maggie feels that Tom is right and that he is more intelligent than her, “Maggie thought this sort of knowledge was very wonderful – much more difficult than remembering what was in the books”, here Maggie is expressing her intelligence as inferior to Tom’s. The reason that Maggie thought this knowledge was so wonderful was probably partly down to the fact that it was Tom that had the knowledge. As Maggie had such respect for Tom and she always felt Tom was right, as she had different types of knowledge and different ways of behaving to Tom she automatically thought that her ways were wrong as they were different to Tom’s.
When Tom thinks to the future he thinks of a life still with Maggie, almost the same as it is now with Tom still being in control, “punish her when she did wrong”. Tom said the word “did” almost as if he was certain that Maggie would do wrong and that it was almost definite that she would do wrong, he is almost taking it for granted that he will have to punish her. I think he takes it for granted that she will have to be punished as she is female and because of his sexist attitude he doesn’t think females can go very long without needing to be punished by a man as he feels men are more superior than females. Tom is a very controlling sort of person not only does he like to control Maggie as is shown above, he wants to control everyone: “He would punish everybody who deserved it: why he wouldn’t have minded being punished himself, if he deserved it, but then, he never did deserve it”. This quotation does not only show Tom’s tendency to want to control everyone it also shows he feels he sets an example to everyone else. Tom says he ” never did deserve it”, that is only in his opinion and he is obviously biased towards his own actions so others could feel he did deserve to be punished. Tom doesn’t seem to take into account the fact that no one acts in the same way and as he feels he is always right and everyone else who acts different to him is wrong, he will have a lot of punishing to do.
Tom trying to control everything including Maggie has an effect on their relationship. It means that the love and care between them could often seem to Maggie to be one-sided, ” that he cared more about her loving him”. Maggie feels insecure in their relationship; she just wants Tom to show his love for her. Tom does care for Maggie but as he has such a high opinion of himself he makes Maggie show how much she loves him but doesn’t in return show how much he loves her. Due to Tom’s lack of showing love for her Maggie’s life seems incomplete, “unsatisfied beseeching affection”, Maggie can’t use “unsatisfied affection” for Tom as he doesn’t respond or notice her love. The word “beseeching” shows how hard Maggie tries to make her love noticed to Tom, she reaches out to him almost begging which shows how important Tom and Tom’s love is to her.
The importance of the relationship between Tom and Maggie is outlined by the fact that it is basically Maggie’s life, without it she did not feel her life was worth living: “What use was anything if Tom didn’t love her?” Maggie is saying here that she needs Tom’s love to live, almost as if it is a drug she could not live without. The question Maggie asks enforces the fact of how important Tom’s love is to Maggie. Maggie asks the question to herself, almost questioning her life. The fact that Maggie is asking the question leaves you with two possibilities, either that her life isn’t very important to her or that Tom’s love is very important to her, so important that she couldn’t live without it. I think the latter possibility is the one that Maggie is thinking of, I don’t think she feels her life would be worth living without Tom. The word “anything” is the word that most clearly shows the strong feelings Maggie has on this subject, she feels that Tom’s love is the most important thing in her life and that nothing can compare to it. ” the need of being loved, the strongest need in poor Maggie’s nature” this quotation shows once more how insecure Maggie is, all she wants is to be loved is that too much to ask? Here the writer wants us to sympathise with Maggie, the word “poor” is used to try and show that none of it is Maggie’s fault and she is the victim. Whenever Maggie argued with Tom what she wanted more than anything was to be forgiven, “to forgive her because he loved her, not because his father told him” Maggie desperately wanted to be loved by Tom, however she wanted the love to be true as her love was for him. Maggie would not be satisfied with love that was not real; she wanted to be loved because Tom liked her and respected her as she did him.
Maggie almost loved Tom with a passion, she loved everything about him no matter how insignificant it may seem, “loved Tom’s shadow” a shadow isn’t really something you can love but Maggie loves Tom’s shadow, which shows the extent she loves him. Maggie could even really be thought of as Tom’s shadow, as she never wants to leave his side and would be happy just watching him as long as they were together. Maggie sees her and Tom’s shadows in an entirely different light, ” Maggie tries to run away from her shadow” to Maggie her shadow is seen almost as a metaphor for darkness, something to run away from. It is impossible to run away from a shadow but Maggie still wants to run away from hers, this shows how differently she looks at herself and Tom. Tom’s shadow is something she can love whereas hers is something to run away from, this shows how insecure she is and how unhappy she is with all of her and how much she loves all of Tom.
Maggie took things to heart a great deal and acted on the spur of the moment, when Tom was annoyed with her she said this quotation which I feel sums up the importance of the relationship between Tom and Maggie, “too miserable to be angry”. Maggie makes this point as she feels Tom doesn’t love her, she says she is “too miserable to be angry” which shows what a state she is in, she is in a state lower than anger – misery all because of a disagreement with Tom. This quotation therefore basically
sums up what is evident throughout the entire first two books, that the relationship between Tom and Maggie is very strong and also very important especially to Maggie.
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