Rhetorical Analysis of Judy Brady's "I Want a Wife"

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Words: 668 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 668|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

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  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph
  3. Conclusion


Judy Brady's essay "I Want a Wife" first appeared in Ms. Magazine in 1971 and has since been regarded as an iconic piece of feminist literature. The essay is a satirical critique of the traditional roles and expectations of wives in a patriarchal society. Brady employs a variety of rhetorical strategies to highlight the absurdity and injustice of these expectations. Through her use of irony, repetition, and a conversational tone, Brady effectively conveys her message, making a compelling case for the reevaluation of gender roles. This essay aims to analyze the rhetorical devices employed by Brady and their effectiveness in underscoring her feminist critique.

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One of the most striking rhetorical strategies used by Brady is irony. Throughout the essay, she adopts the persona of a husband to enumerate the myriad tasks and responsibilities deemed appropriate for a wife. This perspective allows Brady to highlight the unreasonable and often contradictory demands placed on women. For instance, she writes, “I want a wife who will take care of my physical needs. I want a wife who will keep my house clean. I want a wife who will have a meal ready at the end of the day for my enjoyment.” The irony here is palpable; the reader quickly understands that no single person could reasonably fulfill all these tasks without significant personal sacrifice. This ironic portrayal helps to underscore the unrealistic and oppressive nature of traditional marital expectations.

Another significant rhetorical device Brady employs is repetition. The phrase "I want a wife" is repeated numerous times throughout the essay, creating a rhythmic and almost hypnotic effect. This repetition serves to emphasize the numerous and varied expectations placed on wives. Each new "I want a wife" introduces another layer of responsibility, making it increasingly clear that the role of a wife is overwhelmingly demanding. The cumulative effect of this repetition is to make the reader question the fairness and feasibility of these societal expectations. By the end of the essay, the reader is left with a sense of exhaustion and incredulity, mirroring what many wives might feel under the weight of such expectations.

Brady's conversational tone is another effective rhetorical strategy. The essay is written in a straightforward, almost casual style, which makes it accessible to a wide audience. This tone invites the reader to engage with the text on a personal level, making the critique feel more immediate and relevant. For example, Brady writes, “My God, who wouldn’t want a wife?” This rhetorical question, delivered in a colloquial manner, serves to draw the reader into the conversation. It also subtly suggests that the desire for a wife, as depicted, is universal, thereby exposing the pervasive nature of gender inequality. The conversational tone helps to demystify feminist critique, making it approachable and relatable.

In addition to these primary rhetorical strategies, Brady also uses specific examples to illustrate her points. She details various scenarios in which a wife’s needs and desires are subordinated to those of her husband. For example, she mentions that a wife should be willing to put aside her own career aspirations to support her husband’s professional advancement. This specific example brings the abstract critique into concrete terms, making it easier for the reader to grasp the real-world implications of traditional gender roles. Moreover, these examples often reflect common experiences, lending credibility to Brady’s critique and making it more difficult for the reader to dismiss her arguments as exaggerated or irrelevant.

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Judy Brady’s "I Want a Wife" is a masterful example of rhetorical critique. Through the use of irony, repetition, a conversational tone, and specific examples, Brady effectively dismantles the traditional expectations placed on wives. Her essay not only highlights the absurdity and injustice of these expectations but also calls for a reevaluation of gender roles in society. The rhetorical strategies employed by Brady are crucial in conveying her message and engaging the reader. As a result, "I Want a Wife" remains a powerful and relevant piece of feminist literature, continuing to inspire discussions about gender equality and the need for societal change.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Rhetorical Analysis of Judy Brady’s “I Want a Wife”. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 24, 2024, from
“Rhetorical Analysis of Judy Brady’s “I Want a Wife”.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
Rhetorical Analysis of Judy Brady’s “I Want a Wife”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Jul. 2024].
Rhetorical Analysis of Judy Brady’s “I Want a Wife” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 24]. Available from:
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