A patriarchy.

Throughout history males have perpetuated a hedonistic patriarchal society, never considering the side of the distressed female. Melville’s The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids amplifies male’s half-blindness through the exploitation of the uncomprehending male and the subversive female.

Melville splits, The Paradise Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids, into to pieces, The Paradise of Bachelors coming first and The Tartarus of Maids coming second. With this setup, Melville intends to display the dichotomous life of the two sexes, one consisting of “flower-beds, and a river on the side” and the other consisting of “blank air… and comfortless expression”. Melville’s polar comparisons continue throughout the tale as the narrator express “But where are the gay bachelors” (1269) displaying his idiocy, since he cannot comprehend the fact that there is another side to his “Apartment…up toward heaven” (1261). Apart from the obvious contrasting qualities of lifestyle, Melville intertwines a sarcastic tone throughout the piece, mocking the men’s ignorance, “how could they suffer themselves to be imposed upon such monkish fables? Pain! Trouble!” (1264) showing that these men have no willing to understand the other side of heaven, and why should they care when they have plenty of “sherry”!

Although one may think that in the end the narrator learns a lesson, he departs abruptly, never caring for the events that took place in the factory. Upon further analysis, the narrator is seen as never caring for the girls, since he is more compassionate for his horse’s health “blanketing my horse…So that the wind might not strip him bare” (1270) rather than the well being of the “supernatural with unrelated misery” (1270) or, the shivering girl. Even though he witnesses the pale girl deteriorating from the frost, he never considers giving his horse’s blanket to her.  This absence of remorse for the girls continues, “poor Black, my horse, all cringing and doubled up with the cold” (1279) showing the narrator express remorse for his horse rather than the girls, whom of which he just saw being mistreated. Lastly, Melville introduces Cupid, a caricature of the male reaction to the misery of females; he smiles while they suffer.

Conclusively, Melville displays the true nature of the male, as long as his cup is filled, why care for the health of the one who fills it.

3 comments
  1. Your attention to specific detail show that you are quite right, Christian. As you have said, the men are dominant and enjoying life on both stories and are the ones with the freedom. Even the use of the term “girl” as opposed to “lady” or “spinster” show that the men are given preference and the upper hand. The women are forever bound in servitude. The thing that I think is striking is that technology has not given a middle ground on gender. It has either been highly gender discriminate or completely devoid of gender in the sense that it does not depend on whether you are man or woman. I want to see a story where there is that middle ground and gender is not strongly affected technology.

  2. Melville chooses to explain the domination of males in society through the bachelors, mill workers, and how the women are treated. Christian, you make an interesting point when you say that the main character does not care about the girls’ well being as he tours the mill. The male mill workers too do not care for them. They even hire women expecting them to be childless. They assume the maids will dedicate their time and effort to their jobs rather than a family life. Their employers only focus on workroom efficiency and not about the women.

  3. Christian, I agree with you that in The Tartarus of Maids it appears that the men that prosper from the industry completely disregard the workers that keep the industry running. This becomes evident when the narrator asks Cupid what makes the girls appear sheet-white. Cupid responds “with a roguish, twinkle, pure, ignorant, drollery, not knowing heartlessness-‘I suppose the handling of such white bits of sheets all the time makes them so sheety'”(Melville 1274). From the tone in which Cupid responds in, the readers can see the lack of concern and disinterest he has for the women workers. As you stated in your blog, this is an example of where the male mill workers completely disregard the health and life of their workers. However, I do not agree that the narrator doesn’t take into heart the events of the factory. After Cupids responds, the narrator was left uneasy because of “”the strange innocence of cruel-heartedness in this usage-hardened boy” (Melville 1274). As you can see, the narrator finds it hard to understand how a “dimpled, red-cheeked, spirited looking, forward little fellow” (Melville 1272) could be so cruel. I believe this portrays the narrator to be compassionate rather than heartless.

Comments are closed.