Essay about Analysis of Bernard Malamud's "The Magic Barrel"

896 Words 4 Pages
In the traditional Jewish community, the arranged marriage is the approved model for marital relations. Arranged marriages still continue to exist today in modern orthodox Jewish communities. The shadchanim, or marriage brokers, were respected members of society. Often, the shadchanim were the Rabbis, who viewed the arranging of marriages as one of their duties to the community. Through time, however, the arranging of marriages lost its distinction and became the livelihood for the lower classes in the Jewish community. The professional shadchanim were portrayed as a kind of a businessman and con man rolled into one; he was someone who was only eager to earn him commission from closing a success marriage deal. (Israel online)

Bernard
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Instead, he saw a collective image of a single woman who was starved behind a bright smile, without a true personality. He failed to see them as women, to him, "they were pictures in a brief case that stank of fish" (Malamud 208).

Furthermore, the very promise of a dowry by the fathers to Finkle stresses the commodification of the women. As was previously mentioned, the whole concept of the arranging of marriage became economic when professional marriage brokers profited from these. In short, the bride was a sort of good to be sold. Fathers paid grooms, and marriage brokers received commission.

Women, as a whole, were not portrayed as men's equals in "The Magic Barrel." They were either seen as accessories to a career, inanimate objects, or venues for men to find their personal salvation. For example, the only reason why Leo Finkle decided to get a wife was because she would boost his career as a rabbi. Finkle was "advised by an acquaintance that he mikght find it easier to win himself a congregation if he were married" (Malamud, 193). Finkle admittedly, decides to marry not out of any real desire to create a family, but for personal ambitions to further his career. Women were continually objectified throughout the story by Salzman's comparison to them with dolls. Calling a woman a doll limits her to nothing but a pretty face. In the same manner as dolls are silent, the women who Salzman describes as dolls are

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