Attitudes,actions and behaviors in the society are influenced by beliefs,culture, religion, education and history among others. However,societies have different value system, which are promoted by onevalue system, while, at the same time, it may be condemned by anothersystem. This is because these values can promote or negativelyaffect how people view others. Therefore, a responsible societyshould raise questions of social responsibility and individualresponsibility in living up to the values it has established. Thispaper aims at analyzing the responsibility of the society by focusingon two articles namely “Mothertongue” byAmy Tan, Susan’s Sontag’s “Woman’sbeauty: Put down or power source” andFrankensteinbyMary Shelley . The research will give a brief review of the articleand proceed on comparing the societal responsibility as portrayed bycharacters in the two articles.
Inher article, Amy Tan talks about language and the many kinds of“Englishes” that exists in her world. Tan recounts variousexperiences that brought to her realization that she used varioustypes of English. Growing up, Tan was made to believe that being anAsian-American was a hindrance to achieving high scores in English,math and science. However, Tan goes against the grain and becomes anEnglish writer and uses the same “Englishes” that many used whendespising and discouraging her. The author celebrates her boldness toovercome people’s expectation by proved the Asian-Americanstatistic of failing in English wrong.
Onthe other hand, Susan Sontag focuses on how society views men andwomen, and questions whether it is fair or not. Sontag does a goodjob by recounting how the Greek society viewed men and women before,and now and uses this analysis to establish her point that thesociety is unfair towards women. In the article, Sontag major concernis the fact that the society has set a high standard on how womenshould look on the outside, and may have forsaken the importance ofmorals and personality in a woman.
MaryShelly in Frankenstein retells the story of a young scientist, VictorFrankenstein, whose discoveries leads to the creation of a hideousmonster. The monster suffers from isolation and asks his maker tocreate a mate for him. When victor refuses to make the monster amate, the monster embarks on a killing mission where he plans onkilling Victor’s family. Victor retaliates by avenging the death ofhis brother and fiancée, whereby he purposes to kill the monster hecreated. This leads to his death instead. When the monster discoversthat Victor is dead, he decides to end his life as well and claimsthat he no longer has anything to live for.
Tangrew up as an immigrant and her essay portrays an understanding thatmany problems the immigrant families experience when speakingEnglish. To begin with, Tan blames her mother for her limited Englishsince she grew up speaking her mother tongue. Societal attitudestowards language and dialect have had a devastating effect onstudents who come to school speaking languages or dialect differentfrom Standard English. Societal pressure has forced many immigrantsto make difficult choices between heritage language and English.However, most immigrant parents are to blame for their children’slack of English proficiency as some insist on maintaining theirnative language as a way of remaining loyal to their culture andcountry of origin.
However,this affects the quality of participation and academic performance ofthe immigrant children in the class. For this reason, immigrantchildren experience many barriers including isolation, new cultureand lack of psychological adjustments when studying English language.Thus, it is becoming increasingly important for educators in thesociety to come up with ways of meeting the unique needs for theimmigrant children that will involve the entire society. Educatorscan play a major role in enlightening immigrant parents and theirchildren on the need for developing proficiency in language skills.Furthermore, they should also create a learning environment thatdiscourages discrimination and one that accommodates every studentregardless of race, ethnicity and culture (Chuang, p.56).
Tanalso blames the society as it tolerates a negative attitude towardsimmigrant, especially those without English proficiency. Tan recountsa time when a doctor ignored her mother, when she went to collect herscan CAT results. Tan had to intervene and talk to the doctor inorder to obtain help and assistance from the doctor. A research frompublic opinion poll shows that the attitude towards immigrantscontinues to become more hostile, indicating a sensitiveness of theimmigrant issues. Hostility should not be neglected by the society,and most especially the policy makers. Despite language barriers,service providers should not discriminate immigrants. It is crucialto develop diverse services, which enable immigrants to make theirown decision about which services they wish to use. Encouragingfreedom of choice and self-determination is of utmost importance whenliving with immigrants.
Justlike Amy Tan who blames the society and her money for her ‘Englishes’misfortune, Susan Sontag blames the media and the society formisconception of women beauty. According to Sontag, it is the societythat places a demand on how women should behave, look like ormaintain their values. The focus in the past shows that the ancientsociety’s based their attitude towards young women, or the idealimage of a woman, on her personality and moral values. In theancient Greek, beauty was virtue and this focused on the insidebeauty rather than the outside (Sontag, p.118). More so, beauty wasincorporated with a woman’s character from the inside looks to theoutside.
However,the image of the ancient woman has changed to a large extent intoday’s society. Today, the society perception of a woman is basedon the physical appearance rather than the inside. Furthermore, thesociety has placed a demand on women on the need to be beautiful.Rather than character or virtue, beauty is now placed on body partssuch as the hips, breast, waistline and complexion among others. Onthe contrary, these measurements are not confirmed on men as inwomen, but their good looks are taken in a glance.
Therehave been major concerns on the image of the ideal woman in today’ssociety that has resulted from media influences. This image has beena central concern of feminist media criticism since the 1960s sincethe introduction of the America’s ideal image of femininity(Thornham, p.23). The media has been largely blamed for therepresentation of the idea American image of a woman in magazines andimages in advertisements. The concern of the ads views the mediaimages of women as a distortion, as they show inaccurate stereotypesthat damage women’s self-perceptions and limit their social roles. As a result, many women are influenced by the media, and they end upsetting unrealistic and unattainable goals for their body image.
Inexploring the media impacts on women, it has been found out thatsociety today dictates the desired female image. At present, femalebody shape in the U.S and many other nations is slenderness. Theybombard consumers by using these messages to encourage them to attainthis ideal body shape to that they can look attractive and beautiful.However, this has increased cases of low self-esteem among women andeating disorder involving individuals who want to develop somestructured or ritualistic way of dealing with unhealthy eating. It isevident that the media continues to play a major role shaping thesociety by influencing a large number of women by developing imagesof the ideal self.
MaryShelley`s story represents isolation, monstrosity and languageskills. Language plays a major role in Shelley and Tan’s stories asa major form of communication. The monster in Frankenstein struggleswith isolation because he cannot communicate with other people whomhe perceives normal. Just like most immigrants, the monster avoidssocial relationship because of the struggle with identity andpsychological pressure. For this reason, the monster begins todevelop his skills in reading and speaking in order to understand hisway of creation and relate with other people. In fact, Shelly pointsout that the monster can inscribe words on rocks and trees whenleaving messages for victor.
Inconclusion, the three stories address the need for communication andlanguage skills in the current society, as well, as its impacts. FromTan’s and Shelly’s story portray the need to develop proficiencyin communication and language skills. Therefore, institution andeducators are encouraged to play a major role in encouragingperformance and quality education attainment. On the other hand,Susan Sontag’s story portrays how communication through the mediahas played a major role and has impacted the society. Throughcommunication, the society has conceived misleading ideas of theideal woman. However, the media should also encourage self-esteem andbroadcast health program that will help in cultivating a healthylifestyle.
Chuang,Susan S.. Immigrantchildren: change, adaptation, and cultural transformation.Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2011. Print.
Shelley,Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein.Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia Library, 1996. Print.
Thornham,Sue. Women,feminism and media.Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007. Print.
Sontag,Susan. Women’sbeauty: Put down or power source?