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I Want a Wife’ by Judy Brady


Judy Brady’s life began in 1937 in San Francisco, California, and became rather famous for having an active role within the feminist movement of the 1960s. In addition to being an author and editor, she also supported a number of political and environmental movements. Brady used to write for Ms. Magazine, the Women’s Review of Books, Greenpeace Magazine, and many others. One of her most well-known essays is “I want a wife,” which was published in 1971in the inaugural issue of Ms. Magazine. Despite the fact that this sarcastic literary work first appeared several decades ago, it is still rather famous and is being discussed by researchers and participants of feminist movements. The aim of this paper is to identify the essay’s subject, tone, purpose, audience, and thesis and discuss the types of appeal, ethos, logos, and pathos, and some other rhetorical techniques.

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Subject, Tone, and Thesis

The entire focus of Brady’s essay is on the subject of wives’ traditional roles within their homes and various expected duties toward their families. The author uses a satirical tone to show readers how a wife is viewed by her husband and the whole society. Moreover, the tone of the essay is often condescending: “I want a wife who will go along when our family takes a vacation so that someone can continue to care for me and my children when I need a rest and change of scene” (Brady). As for the thesis of the essay, the author describes the enormous number of wives’ duties and states that addressing these responsibilities is the only thing husbands need from them.


The purpose of Brady’s essay is to convince the readers to start looking objectively at the expectations and viewpoints of men about what a wife is and what she should do. Without saying this directly, the author uses irony instead to persuade all women to stop, think carefully, and understand that they do not have to behave this way and be the slaves of men. Brady constantly repeats the phrase “I want a wife to…” and tries to rattle up readers’ emotions and encourage them to take action and prevent the roles of women from demoralizing them (Brady). Moreover, in this essay, husbands’ laziness and selfishness are implied.


It is evident that the essay was written to all husbands and wives. It is possible to understand this since the article discusses expectations about a wife, and some moments of life after marriage like cooking, taking care of children, and doing the household chores are described. However, Brady writes not only for married couples but also to all women and men in general.


Ethos is one of the three appeals that a writer uses in order to convince the audience of the argument; precisely this appeal refers to any element of an essay that is meant to call to the ethics or ethical responsibilities of readers. Brady establishes and proves her credibility in the first several sentences of the essay. She says: “I belong to that classification of people known as wives. I am A Wife, not altogether incidentally, I am a mother,” and readers understand that she may be trusted because she knows what she is writing about (Brady). Moreover, Brady must have experienced this annoying attitude of men herself as she sounds like an annoyed and fed-up wife.


Pathos is another appeal that is a quality of the author’s life’s experience that has to stir up readers’ emotions of sorrow, sympathy, and pity. It is the method of persuading the audience in the drawn-out argument through an emotional response. Brady wants people that read her essay to get angry at the topic and take action. Moreover, she wants all men who expect their wives and other women to perform all those duties and keep silent to feel jealous and wrong. The author addresses the exaggerated expectations of men and the stresses of the everyday life of their wives. After listing the duties required from a married woman, Brady says, “My God, who wouldn’t want a wife?” (Brady). This rather emotional conclusion towards the argument with the irony’s presence indicates that women are mistreated and are under extreme stress.


Logos is the third appeal that has to convince readers by employing logic or reason. The essay of Brady contains clear arguments, and one of them is that women are expected to fulfill too many obligations. This idea is not delivered directly but referred to by the list of a wife’s roles and responsibilities. Moreover, it is rather ironic that there are no duties that a husband has; therefore, the inequality among men and women is another argument identified in the essay. Brady and her essay attract the audience by their credibility and trustworthiness. Also, the author uses humor and rather simple words that are quite effective in expressing her opinion.

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Rhetorical Techniques

To express her ideas, Brady uses irony and sarcasm in her essay. For example, she says that a wife must be loyal to her husband while he is free to leave her any time he wants (Brady). Hyperbole is evident in the sentence, “I want a wife who will care for me when I am sick and sympathize with my pain and loss of time from school” (Brady). By repeating the phrase “I want a wife to…,” the author uses parallelism. The syntax is another rhetorical technique; the writer creates imperative sentences filled with many commas to incorporate straight to the point. In addition, the listing gives the audience perspective on the overwhelming responsibilities that are expected from a wife.


Brady, J. (2017). ‘I want a wife,’ the timeless ’70s feminist manifesto. The Cut.

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