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Ellen Goodman’s social criticism on the archetype of a corporate man who neglects family and life for ambition is enhanced with her condescending tone and sarcasm.
Goodman uses the archetype of “Phil” to emphasize the automated lifestyle in an ambitious without passion lifestyle. The way “Phil” is described in terms of extrinsic factors, such as “workaholic” and “overweight.” With this Goodman dehumanizes “Phil” and makes him a mechanic drone. “Finally and precisely” is repeated three times throughout the column and is only used to describe “Phil’s” death. This repetition of the specific words are inforced to dehumanize “Phil” and show the lack of sympathy Goodman has towards him. The mathematical ambiance of “precisely” is emphasized as Goodman repeats the ages of all those, as well as the specific time “Phil” died, ad the number log of the days he worked each are included in the illusion of a logistic world, with no room for emotion.The phrases give insight on Goodman’s disgust towards the corporate man who lacks humanity and the spirit of life.
Goodman reveals the flaws in an ambition-focused world as she describes the monotony and worthlessness of the corporate actions. The work environment that “Phil” works in is highly competitive. “Phil” was “one of three who might conceivably– if the president died or retired soon enough– have moved to the top spot.” These corporate men are without compassion and view death only as an opportunity to advance. Yet, the afternoon of the funeral the boss which “Phil” had given his life to asked “Phil’s” three subordinates, who were being seriously considered for his job, “Who’s been working the hardest?” The corporate world didn’t miss him or his efforts. “Phil” was just a tool to be used, an automaton that works until it dies and then is replaced. But because of his infatuation with power, he forgot what was truly worth fighting for. Goodman reveals her heartbreak as she states the emotional tragedy that “Phil” had caused with his neglection. He left a wife that had “given up trying to compete with his work, years ago,” but has continued to miss him since that day. “Phil” and all others like him have spent so much time focusing, in a life that reaps no rewards, that they haven’t noticed humanity passed them by.
Ellen Goodman reveals her bitter attitude towards the type of people “Phil” represents to lead those that live the same lifestyle to recognize their lack of life. She writes as a warning to serve and ensure that those who are headed down the same path take action and fill their life with the warmth of love, before its too late.
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