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Hermaphrodites and Society Essay

Individuals are given the gift of life when they are born into this world. Many agree that everyone is blessed and should not take their lives for granted. To be truly alive, individuals must be overjoyed and pursue happiness. However, others would describe their lives as a joke. To be precise, many would be ashamed of who they are. A very strong example of an ashamed soul would be Calliope, the main protagonist of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. In the story, Eugenides tells the tale of Callie, who is supposedly a monster because she is a hermaphrodite.

Being a hermaphrodite indicates that someone has the sex organs associated with both genders. By definition, Callie is an abnormal freak. Eugenides employs literary devices, such as tone, imagery, and personification, to express Callie’s shame and humiliation of being herself. Eugenides employs imagery to transport readers into Callie’s shoes and understand her shame of being a hermaphrodite. Callie describes herself as “being surrounded by illuminating faces bent over books, her hair covering the definition of herself.

Normal individuals surround Callie, and she abruptly conceals the word monster to prevent anyone from realizing her true identity. In Callie’s point of view, normal individuals surround her, and she is in the center covering a secret that could ultimately ruin her reputation as a human. Callie is so frightened of being exposed to the world as a true monster. Callie makes a past reference of how she had experienced monster before. Callie addresses that “she was not looking at it in her bathroom stall. ” She has the affirmation that someone had already known her as a monster, but she was too afraid to agree.

Now, however, Callie is reminded of her past, and sadly acquaints past and present to reach the conclusion the she is indeed a monster. Callie also refers to herself as a “lumbering, shaggy creature pausing at the edge of the woods, as a humped convolvulus rearing its dragon’s head from an icy lake. ” Callie truly visualizes herself as an actual monster, a freak of nature that is shunned by the world and lives in absolute seclusion. In her eyes, she is a grotesque beast that cannot even stand to stare at herself out of humiliation and shame. Callie is absolutely alone and is surrounded by others who look at her with disgust and wide eyes.

Eugenides utilizes tone in the story to help readers develop sympathy and pity towards Callie. All throughout the passage, the tone of the story is serious. Callie acknowledges that “her mother was crying in the next room, and the doctors were working on Callie’s disease in secret. ” The statements convey that Callie’s parents are also disappointed and ashamed of what their daughter has become. Callie understands that her mother sheds tears thinking what she has done to deserve a defected daughter. Callie’s parents are so ashamed and overwhelmed that they took Callie to New York to try and heal in secret instead of in the open.

Callie’s parents do not want others to see what has happened to her out of concern for their daughter’s social life as a normal individual. The thoughts and emotions expressed give readers pity towards Callie and her condition. Callie muses that “she longed to be held, caressed, which was impossible. ” Callie wishes to be comforted and surrounded by others that loved and understood her. Unfortunately, Callie views herself so much like a monster rather than an individual that she is too far long to be comforted by anyone. Readers infer that Callie is a freak with no friends, family, or loved ones.

Eugenides also uses personification to display how Callie views the inhumane objects around her as also excluding her from humanity and pushing her towards being a monster. Callie enunciates that “fear is stabbing me. ” Callie feels horrible about her discovery of being a hermaphrodite; she actually visualizes fear around her. Callie feels frightened and vulnerable to the thought of others singling her out and chanting the monster. Callie cannot even comprehend what she feels, but can only implore she is engulfed by fear and incapable of accepting her secret getting out.

This also expresses Callie’s extreme shame of being who she is, as well as how others will view her as a non –human. Callie comments on the chain within the dictionary as “speaking of poverty, mistrust, inequality, and decadence as she held onto it. ” Callie establishes a connection between herself and the chain as both being bound to the worst parts of human lives. Callie strongly grasps the word monster in her hand, as if she is bound to it like the chain is. Callie cannot detach herself because deep in her heart, she understands that she is a monster, no matter how much she wishes not to be.

As Callie leaves the Reading Room, Callie also cannot release the word monster from herself. Callie appeals that “the Webster’s dictionary kept calling after her, Monster, Monster! ” Callie is so attached and strongly understands herself as a monster that she hears the word everywhere she goes. No matter where Callie goes, the word monster will always haunt and pursue her, always reminding her of what she is. Callie interprets the chants of inanimate objects calling her monster, and she cannot help but feel ashamed and humiliated to be reminded of what she is.

Calliope, all throughout the passage, is a hermaphrodite and a monster. A world of normal individuals surrounds Callie and do not understand what she is. Eugenides uses literary devices, such as imagery, tone, and personification to express Callie’s shame and humiliation of being herself. To be alive is truly a blessing, but is being abnormal in the eyes of peers a curse? Everywhere, there are individuals who are terrified and alone, and sometimes, no one comes to help them. Regardless of who they are, or whether they may be different, everyone belongs. No one is a monster.


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