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Woman Is Living Alone English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 983 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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A woman is living alone without her husband in Tick, by Joyce Carol Oates. The passage begins with the woman thinking that she is self-sufficient and worry free. Nevertheless, she is in the bathroom figuring out what is stuck on her head. The climax occurs when she finds out that it’s nothing other than a tick. She gradually starts losing her mind at this point. The woman thinks of every single possible way of getting rid of the tick. At the end of this passage she still cannot rid herself of the tick that is sucking her life away. This passage is important because it illustrates that she cannot live without her husband.

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The woman believes that she can live and survive on her own without her husband. Oates implies that being “Miss Independent” is but a fantasy, of the woman, that can never become true. Oates points out how much she acts like a child when faced with a benign problem. The childish behavior, portrayed by the woman, proves that she is reliant on her husband. Since her husband practices medicine, her thought process comprises only of her medicinal knowledge of ticks that she acquired from him. Oates implies that the woman is fully dependent on her husband and cannot function without him with the use of symbolism, imagery, and shifting diction.

The author illustrates the reliance of the woman to her husband by using symbolism. The tick symbolizes the woman’s situation. “She instructs herself to remain calm. Not to panic. Not to give into nausea, gagging” (Oates 471). At first she is trying to remain clam about the fact that her husband left her. “It’s only an insect after all, one of those tiny black spiderlike things, parasites that suck animal and human blood… the woods and fields are filled with them” (471). She believes that her husband only left her and that it happens to other women as well. She believes that she can survive without her husband. But later in the passage, it is mentioned that the woman “is digging furiously at her scalp with her nails…” (471). She is going crazy because she is living alone without anyone and needs help. Her state demonstrates that she is dependent on someone being there for her at all times, like her husband. The tick also symbolizes the woman. It is stated that ticks are “parasites that suck animal and human blood…” (471). She clings to her husband and she needs him to survive. Ticks can only survive for a small period of time with the blood that they have ingested. As soon as they run out they need a host to keep on living, otherwise they don’t survive. Similarly, the woman believes that she can live on without her husband, but in reality she can’t live without him because she needs him to take care of her.

Oates depicts the chaotic scene of the tick through descriptive imagery. It is stated “she runs for a hand mirror and holds it at such angle that she can see into the cabinet mirror… and she gives a little scream and nearly drops the mirror…bloated and purplish-black…” (471). She sees the true reality of what was occurring to her. She looks into the mirror and sees what has happened to her ever since her husband left. She is staring at a “bloated and purplish-black” self and she sees what living alone has done to her. It has come to a point where the woman is screaming at her reflection. It is mentioned that “raining from the trees onto unknown human heads…” (471), implying that the woman has been raining problems on her husband and that is the reason of his departure from her. The author states, “She is digging furiously at her scalp with her nails and the sink is flecked with blood, her blood, and a number of hairs” (471). The imagery depicts her desperate struggle to live on her own and how perilous it is for her to live alone without her husband.

Oates’ diction changes over time in the passage. Soon after her husband leaves her, she feels like she can take on the world. Words such as “Pride!”, “Self-Reliance!” and “There you go!” shows that for a single moment in her life, after her husband left her, she feels confident (471). Nonetheless, this feeling fades away rather rapidly and reality kicks in, not long after, and she finds herself “digging furiously”, “panting” and “cursing” (471). She is grasping the fact that she is missing someone in her life. She sees that she can’t live independently. Additionally, she does not like the fact that she can’t make it on her own, which is why she is “cursing” (471). The author demonstrates her slowly losing her sanity after her husband left through the dramatic shift of diction.

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In this passage, Joyce Carol Oates discusses the time after the husband has left her wife. At first, she is joyful that she is single again and that she doesn’t have to deal with her husband anymore. But gradually, Oates points out that the woman starts to go insane because there is no one there besides her. She was fully dependent on her husband, but doesn’t apprehend it in the passage. Oates exposes the reader to the reality of the woman’s unhinged state using the tick as a symbol of the woman and her present condition. Furthermore, the author’s shift in diction, in the passage, makes it evident that the woman was realizing that she can’t live independently; she needs her husband by her side. To emphasize the actuality of what the woman had turned into, without her husband, Oates uses vivid imagery. Oates indicates that the woman couldn’t live on without the help of her husband using palpable symbolism, bizarre imagery, and transitioning from cheerful diction to a distressing diction.


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