Objectification of women

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Course Title
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Objectification of women
Objectification refers to the act of despising the dignity of another person. It comes from
the word object which is observed as a tool. Objectification of women thus implies displaying
women as objects which lack dignity and honour. This study evaluates how women have been
objectified in Rappaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and in The Girl Who Was Plugged
In by James Tiptree. Both the two novels have depicted women as the centre of executing
unworthy deeds. However, objectification of women in these two novels has contributed to the
development of the plot of the story as well as building on the traits of some characters. Beatrice
is the representation of women in Rappaccini’s Daughter while Philadelphia Burke represents
women in The Girl Who Was Plugged In.
Beatrice is misused by her father who is a professor and does experiments with poisons.
Rappaccini, the father of Beatrice, uses her as the tool to carry out the experiment. Most of
Beatrice’s time is spent in the garden where there are plenty of flowers which she has eventually
developed love towards. The flowers are poisonous. Beatrice despite her beauty becomes like
one of those flowers in the garden, and her father is less concerned about her life. Brenzo hints
that Rappaccini tortured Beatrice by forging the means to place her in the garden because she is a
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woman (153). This is a representation of how female gender is despised. They are only observed
as the tools for experiment thus depriving them the human dignity. Although Rappaccini is
observed as a learned professor who does not respect human right like the science, he is being
biased on gender. He intends to use women as the centre of the experiment which is poisonous.
He lacks the shreds of tenderness to the female gender since he observes them as not being
different from the objects of his experiment. Although this Hawthorne’s story is a moral fable, he
uses a woman to represent the tool of a poisonous experiment (Coleman 1). Rappaccini regards
Beatrice as one of the poisonous plants in the garden. This is a depiction of how males are
underrating females in the novel.
Philadelphia Burke is used to represent the women’s weak role of acting as an object in
Tiptree’s novel. Although advertisement is illegal, women are used as the tools to carry out such
ads. However, the health conditions of Burke does not allow her to live healthy for long since
she later lands in the hospital after an attempted suicide. Her condition deteriorates, and the
option to prolong her life becomes the use of a machine. This machine, however, lacks the
human brains. Her life is changed to become a remote machine which is known as Delphi.
Delphi uses the brain of Burke, and she is the one who controls it. The new being is more
attractive than the previous Burke whose health had been jeopardized by the disease. The
transformation of Burke into Delphi made her lose her humanity, and she is easily abused,
shunned, and ignored (Stevenson 95). Tiptree objectifies Burke who is a woman. The
objectification of Burke shows how women dignity is likened to the technological gadget. A
woman deserves to live like a human being, and severe disease should be free to take over her
life if the treatment measures remain ineffective. The mechanization of Burke is an expression of
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how women are despised after their lives are translated into man-made gadgets instead of
providing them with a decent burial.
Rappaccini uses Beatrice to reach out to other men. He realizes that his daughter is
beautiful and therefore, she can be used to carryout out his poisonous experiment extensively by
engaging other people. In this case, she uses her daughter as a tool to attract men to the field so
that they can also inhale the poison. Rappaccini’s daughter is able to capture the attention of
Giovanni who is very new in that society. Giovanni is a guy who had just arrived in Padua, and
after observing through the window of the house, he was able to spot a beautiful land that was
full of flowers. He later recognizes the presence of a beautiful woman in the garden. After
discovering the path that will lead him to this lady, Giovanni does not hesitate but follows the
way to meet the girl who eventually infects him with a dangerous poison that has been set up by
professor Rappaccini. Beatrice in this novel is depicted as a dangerous object that easily kills.
Her beauty is central in attracting men who are lured into the death trap as in the case of
Giovanni (Brenzo 155). It is her father who had designed this poison, and he recognized Beatrice
as a strategic “tool” to carry out the mission of poisoning. Her appearance is elegant, and that is
why Giovanni is easily infatuated towards her. It can thus be argued that Beatrice is being used
as a tool of poison which is instituted by a man to attract other people, and this consequently
helps Rappaccini to fulfill the mission of his experiment.
The objectification of Burke was purposeful. Burke was objectified to allow her to
facilitate the advertisements. The major intention was to make her a celebrity who would carry
out the advertisement that would promote certain products. Delphi is made with impressive looks
that easily captures the attention of customers. She is observed as a woman who buys products
and uses them. This is marketing message she communicates to the potential buyers. The looks
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of Delphi makes Paul Isham fall in love with her unaware that she is a remote robot. It is thus
clear that women are objectified to meet the needs of other individuals. This is an expression of
the lack of dignity to the female gender. Trussler argues using the Catholic Church dimension
that allowing the existence of robots like Delphi is a sin since a human being needs to have the
physical body which he/she must suppress as a means of expiating for the sins (Trussler 8).
Although Burke was objectified due to the physical disabilities, this was a misrepresentation of
the effects of female disability (Trussler 6). Delphi is a tool that has been manipulated to do the
business of advertising. This shows how women are despised as objects and thus used to fulfil
the individual desires. The life of a person deserves respect and should not be objectified. The
objectification of a person gives room for people to abuse and shun the mechanized object which
represents a human being. When Paul Isham came to realize that Delphi was a robot, he lost
respect for Burke who was the director of the conduct of Delphi.
The objectification of women has been exposed in the novels adapted for this study.
Although the life of a human being deserves respects, there are people who are yet to recognize
its importance. Women are more prone to objectification due to their impressive looks which
makes some people emerge as the beneficiaries. In Rappaccini's Daughter, Rappacccini is the
beneficiary of the objectification of Beatrice. He ensures that her daughter is placed in the garden
to act as the centre of drawing the attention of men and other interested parties who may be
captivated by her looks. She attracts Giovanni, and consequently, he poisons him by the
Rappaccini’s poison that she possesses. This is an illustration of how men despise women, and
they are ready to sacrifice them as core to achieving their desired needs. In the novel, The Girl
Who Was Plugged In, Burke is the epitome of objectification. She contracts a life-threatening
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disease which propels her to attempt suicide that leads to her hospitalization. She is objectified
due to her physical condition to help in the advertisements. She conducts the advertisements
which capture the attention of consumers especially because of her new impressive looks. The
sole reason to objectify her was to use her as a tool for advertisements. It is thus clear that
women are easily objectified to assist in carrying out some other peoples’missions but not to
prolong their lives. The two novels display women as a simple tool which is easily manipulated
for self-gain. The objectification of women is a depiction of the lack of honour to their lives.
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Works cited
Brenzo, Richard. Beatrice Rappaccini: A Victim of Male Love and Horror. American Literature
48.2 (1976): 152-164.
Coleman, Leo. “Beauty’s Knowledge: Hawthorne’s Moral Fable Rappaccini’s Daughter.”
Samatosphere. 2017.
Stevenson, Mellisa. “Trying to Plug In: Posthuman Cyborgs and the Search for Connection.”
Science Fiction Studies 34.1 (2007): 87-105.
Trussler, Meryl. The Fantastic Adventures of No-body: Mechanisms of cyborg disembodiment in
five texts by women authors. MA Thesis, Lund University, 2014

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