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The Importance of Work

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Hannah Ray

Professor Jones

English 1020

28 February 2018

The Importance Of Work

        In her essay “The Importance of Work,” from The Feminine Mystique published in 1963, Betty Friedan confronts American women’s search for identity. The 1960s were not only dominated by the Vietnam War but also included several key Civil Rights movements. Among the multitude of movements during the 1960s one of the most empowering was the American Feminist Movement. During the movement women fought for equal pay, human rights, and to be identified not by gender but by work. The American Feminist Movement inspired Friedan to write and publish The Feminine Mystique, in which contains the excerpt “The Importance of Work.” Throughout the excerpt, Friedan explains American women's’ crisis in the search for identity during the 1960s, but Friedan also offers a resolution by explaining women need to fulfil their own dreams as humans. Friedan’s purpose for the excerpt is to inform people the establishment of a person’s identity is through work. Friedan focuses “The Importance of Work” at not only the struggling women of the 1960s, but also for women in all places from every era. Friedan excelled in her schooling and graduated from Smith College with a bachelor’s degree in 1942. Not only did Friedan identify as a feminist but Friedan also co founded the National Organization for Women, serving as the organization’s first president. With all of the experience, Friedan was extremely qualified in the field of feminism which contributed to the book’s massive success. Friedan states a valid argument by appealing to logos and pathos while using repetition, allusions, and metaphors to create a persuasive essay.  

        Friedan uses logos, also known as the appeal to logic, to persuade the reader to analyze the issue of identity. By providing logical claims and explanations, Friedan was successful in the persuasion of the audience. For example, Friedan explains that women were, by accident, sharing the same work as men and flourishing. Friedan supports her claim with a logical explanation by stating,”The women who came by steerage from Ireland, Italy, Russia, and Poland worked beside their husbands in the sweatshops and the laundries, learned the new language, and saved to send their sons and daughters to college” (para. 6). Friedan supports the importance of women in society by using a logical appeal. Additionally, Friedan makes the point that the work of women has evolved with the growing years. Friedan mentioned,” By accident of history, American women shared in the work of society, and grew with the men” (6). Friedan uses logic in history to explain that women have evolved in working, and have been growing with men ever since. Friedan uses logical appeals to support her opinions and claims.  

        Friedan also uses pathos, the appeal to emotion, to connect the audience emotionally to her writing. Friedan plucks emotions from the reader by her style and word choice used within “The Importance of Work.” Friedan appeals to the reader’s emotions by stating,”A woman cannot find her identity through others-her husband, her children” (10).  Friedan encourages the reader in order to find a person’s identity the person has to look within. Friedan also uses pathos to acknowledge the point in which a woman without work, or a passion, is slowly killing herself. Friedan states,”A women today that has no goal, no purpose, no ambition patterning her days into the future … is committing a kind of suicide” (12). The word suicide brings an overwhelming amount of emotions to the reader. Additionally, Friedan compares the lack of identity to a horrible act of taking one’s own life. With the strong word choice, Friedan encourages the reader to agree with the stated opinion and she uses the appeal to emotion to sway the reader.  

        In “The Importance of Work” Friedan uses repetition to draw the reader’s attention to specific significant details plastered throughout her work. In order to help the audience understand the topic, Friedan uses the rhetorical device to keep the points clear and hold her audience’s attention. To expand, within paragraph ten the word “death” is seen multiple times. Friedan states,”Sometimes this awareness comes only at the moment of death. Sometimes it comes from a more subtle facing of death: the death of self … living death …” (10). The repetition of the word death appeals to the reader and helps the reader understand Friedan’s point. Friedan usage of repetition gets the point across to the audience her topic is extremely serious.  

        Friedan also uses allusions for the audience to better understand her work. Throughout the selection, Friedan directly refers to famous individuals. Assuming the reader’s have a common knowledge of the references’ accomplishments, Friedan creates allusions towards the famous individuals. Friedan makes allusions toward the famous people to help the reader better understand her claims and also to persuade the audience. For example, Frieden makes reference to Sigmund Freud by saying,” … Freud … man finds himself by losing himself; man is defined by his relation to the means of production …” (3). Friedan creates an allusion using Sigmund Freud who was a neurologist and founded psychoanalysis, a method of treatment through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst. To support the opinions states, Friedan makes reference to other educated officials to support her claims.



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