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Who/What is the object of satire in Marriages are Made?

How does this poem bring out the constraints within which a woman functions in a patriarchal society?

Marriages are Made by Eunice De Souza satirizes the institution of marriage in the Indian context. Although the protagonists belong to a specific Goan Catholic society, to which the writer herself belongs, the poem applies itself to the treatment of women across boundaries of religion, caste or class. Gender discrimination differs from all other forms of discrimination as it is the most difficult to categorize. Because of the strong bonds between the oppressor and the oppressed those of psychology or biology or, as in this case, matrimony the women cannot break ranks and unite against a common enemy. It is often failed to be classified as oppression at all, and is instead taken as the natural order of things that men should assert themselves over their feminine counterparts. This irony is well developed in the poem. Through the very title, the institution of marriage is relocated from the world of adages and romance, and presented in the inglorious light of the sham that it has become. The poets deliberate selection of only a part of the age-old proverb which states that marriages are made in heaven, is a comment on the same. A satirical mode is adopted in cutting the title. Marriages are usually believed to be a matter of destiny, and are said to be created in heaven, but the author, through the word made implies an external human agency. Through the subsequent process of match-making that the poem describes, it becomes obvious that humans have taken to playing God. The poem is written in a dual tone. The obvious, impassive, narratorial voice and the subversive, indignant, authorial one. The occasion of the poem is the marriage of the narrators cousin, Elena. The reader is told that all the formalities have been completed. The formalities turn out to be a humiliating scrutiny that the bride-to-be has been subjected to. The financial soundness of the fathers position is checked and all the physical features of the girl are inspected. The author presents the open commodification of women in a patriarchal society. The examination is clinical in the extreme and seems more suited to the market purchase of an expensive consumer product than the choosing of a prospective bride. The poet allows the undercutting of her own viewpoint, by deliberately refracting her voice through that of the respectable other. However, the authorial perspective is identified though the element of nonsense which is added in the poem, in the line her stools [examined] for the possible non-Brahmin worm, due to which stress is laid on the absurdity of the whole proceeding. The rigidity of the caste system is also commented upon, as the bride is liable to be rejected if a single part of her is found to be non-Brahmin. The girl is considered in fractions, and is never given an individual identity apart from her name and the various parts of her body. She is someones cousin, someones daughter and is not given the dignity of a last name. Marriage by convention is usually considered a bond of emotionality, sexuality and spirituality between two equal partners. However, through the poem, it is pointed out that in a patriarchal society, the power lies solely in the domain of the husband. The wife is objectified and expected to conform to

gender stereotypes and become the center of domesticity. She is not even offered the alternative of a childless marriage; instead it is taken for granted that children will take care of [her figure]. The dismissive tone employed in stating that Elena was found to be not quite tall enough and not quite full enough completely negates the feelings of the woman at having to hear her shortcomings discussed in this indifferent manner. Physical beauty is the only marker given to judge a good wife, and fairness (the right shade of rightness) assuming an almost virtuous connotation, is expected to compensate for other shortcomings. It is made clear that the man is the customer in this marriage market, while the woman is the product, and has to sell herself by advertising and laying stress on her attractive physical attributes. The onus of choice lies entirely with the male, as he has the power of accepting or rejecting the woman. This is portrayed in the poem by the impassivity of the narrators monologue. There seems to be no objection raised by the brides family to these examinations, and their expected indignation at this unjust treatment of the woman becomes conspicuous by its absence. However, the irony of the situation is presented through the last few lines. Justness implies moral undertones, and therefore this man ought to have a perfect wife. The predominant attitude of male superiority and gender injustice is brought to the fore by the fact that while Elena has not been given a last name, the name of the groom takes up an entire lineFrancisco X. Noronha Prabhu. All the qualities he needs are his name, his lineage. He is presumed good in all respects and it is not considered necessary to initiate any inquiries regarding his suitability for Elena, instead there is unquestioning acceptance. The irony is also presented through the statement, good son of Mother Church which is presumably through Church attendance or through donations, both of which are not indicative of any personal goodness of character. Women are raised to the position of goddesses in various religious sects, while in reality the woman has no right, individuality or personal choice. Mother is higher than wife, as there is a proverbial bond of spirituality associated with the former, while sexuality, a threatening quality, is associated with the latter. It is a comment on the patriarchal society which allows both delusions to co-exist; that he can be the good son of Mother Mary, while he can treat a prospective wife as a commodity. A woman is not fulfilled unless she has been desexualized and has given birth to a boy. Her identity is defined through various dominating males figures in her life- her father, her husband and later, if she is fortunate enough, her son. Marriages not made in heaven, but are instead created by social forces that deny the woman her fundamental right to dignity and fail to appreciate her true worth.