The urge to survive and feed our families, stretch us to eke out for a living with our flesh and bones. Caught in the middle of all this is women who though physically do not match their counterparts; the males are pushed to a corner where they have to do the similar works to earn a living. The situation is often worsened when ones husband kick the basket and she has to provide for the family, report to the capitalist “bread” factories whose major interest is to multiply profits and then come back home with the “bread” which is sold expensively in the shops.
Herman Melville’s “ Tartarus of Maids" and "Factory Work" by Deborah Boe, explicitly highlight the plight of women insofar as working in the factories is concerned. The two authors though used different forms, styles narrative structures, different settings and cultural contexts, they well highlight the troubles women sip through in factories. From Debora’s poem based on a town setting to “Tartarus Maids”, whose title is symbolic to the meaning of the well structured article based on the same title but of a country side setting. As is well evident from the two literatures though of differing genres, women undergo more than could ever be put in words.
This paper is going to close in on these two pieces of literatures and analyze their difference as well as trace their points of overlap in order to come up with the a wide view of the “Plight of women in factories”
In the form we shall discuss the genres of the two literatures. While Debora Boe chooses to use a poem, Herman Melville takes the article prose form.
The two authors employ different styles in their pieces, while Herman Melville takes a calm voice with astonishing observations; Debora is somehow bitter and contemptual in her approach. “My machine ate up my shirt once. I tried to get it out, the wheel spinning on me, until someone with a brain turned it off.”(p.36) The italic part indicates how angry Debora is with the factories industry of how foolish they are.
Here, the authors choice of voice of narration is going to be analyzed, an author may choose first person, second person or third person narration.
In both literatures, the authors use the first person narration. Both authors take the position of the narrator which helps in describing the plights they witness or go experience.
However, Debora Boe, takes the position of the woman experiencing the factory troubles whilst Herman bolds the plights through observation of the women undergoing the same. Debora highlights the plight in the 15th stanza by saying “My machine ate up my shirt once”,(p.36) this shows how herself was suffering compared to Herman who at the folding room is exposed to the women working there, astonished she spoke “ ‘All maids.’ Again the strange emotion filled me.”(p.36) This indicates that the Herman was not experiencing the troubles but was observing the women facing the same.
Cultural context talks about cultural set up on which the literature is based, this often depends on the setting and the environment involved.
The cultures on which the two contexts are based are different. Debora in her poem uses an industrialized town while Herman’s is of a country side. “If I hit my boyfriend now, in the supermarket parking lot”(p.61) wonders Debora in the ninth stanza of the first paragraph. The supermarket parking is a sign that the setting is more of a town than the country side. “Turning to the east, right out from among bright farms and sunny meadows,” (p.30) is Melville’s description of in the first paragraph. This gives the reader a picture of a country side. "Some from the country round about…"Oh! You mean the flowers so called—the Bachelor's Buttons?"(p.35) Also shows the country setting of the essay.
An obvious similarity though is that both the literatures are mostly describing the situations in the factories in relation to women.
Symbolism is the use of objects, ideas and people to represent objects, ideas and people.
In Herman Melville’s “ Tartarus of Maids", he reckons that “the currents running through the hollow is called Blood River because of its brick-color consistency”. And when, the narrator, is taken to the room where the machinery is actually kept, it is described as having a "stifling [with a] strange, blood-like abdominal heat" (p.36). This shows how the author tries to relate birth and the work in the factories. The focus is however based on the labor pain, at least according to the symbolism used. “Phyllis, who stands next to me, had long hair before the glue machine got it” (p.61) is an example of the impacts of working in the factories by Debora.
“If I hit my boyfriend now, in the supermarket parking lot he knows I hit him.”(p.36) Is an example of symbolism in Debora’s poem, She symbolizes the how hard her hands have become out of the tires labor she is forced to undergo every day in a bid to ensure she finishes her work. The factory leaves most of the workers losing craftsmanship and as such, they end up working like machines. The narrator, when employees of were being laid off, she beat everybody,” It's all in economy of motion, all the moves on automatic. I almost don't need to look at what I'm doing.”
As Herman puts it, “I ascended from the Devil's Dungeon. At the Black Notch I paused, and once more bethought me of Temple-Bar. Then, shooting through the pass, all alone with inscrutable nature, I exclaimed—Oh! Paradise of Bachelors! and oh! Tartarus of Maids!” (p.38), the troubles of women are well evident in both the pieces of work. The two prolific authors well demonstrate the theme, “Plight of women in factories.” Having used different settings, styles, cultural context but similar environments, with both applying symbolism in their works, the troubles women shoulder, the unique challenges they face while working in the factories and how exploited they are is well represented in the genres.
Deborah, B. "Factory Work." The Girl of the Early Race: Poems (2010 ).
The Paradise of Bachelors and The Tartarus. Herman Melville. New York: HarperCollins , 2009.