To Be or Not To Be

A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well.
-- Louisa May Alcott.
...........hmmm....that more or less describes my situation !!

~A Wise Man Said~

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle

~My Photo Blog~

  ...Worth a Thousand Words

Friday, August 05, 2005
 
Have subscribed to Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day. What I like about it is not only that it gets me a new word (sometimes a familiar one, of course!) everyday, but also along with it a small history of the word -- the history is what I find fascinating.

The word that I received today was "small beer". It means (apart from the obvious "inferior beer"), "something of small importance". Apparently this word dates to Shakespeare's day, and though he didn't coin it, he made it popular. Let me quote --

"In Othello, Desdemona asks Iago to describe a "deserving woman". Iago responds by listing praises for ten lines, only to conclude that such a woman would be suited "to suckle fools, and chronicle small beer"; in other words, to raise babies and keep track of insignificant household expenses. Desdemona quickly retorts, declaring Iago's assertion a "most lame and impotent conclusion."

I am a little surprised. I somehow thought in olden days it was the pride of a 'deserving woman' to take care of the kids and manage the household, but from what I can make of this paragraph, it doesn't seem to be so. Why does Iago frame the description in most unflattering tones and why is Desdemona so quick to take offence at it? I thought it was only in these modern days that the role of a housewife is not respected as much as it should be...whereas at one time it was natural for women to assume it, and indeed even desirable.

For my own part, I am confused. I certainly feel it is as challenging to be a successful housewife as it is to be, say, a manager in a company -- but I am not sure it is as satisfying, as I have not been in the former position. The only way I can test my own ground is to ask myself whether I would consider being one if the option or circumstance arose -- I find that very difficult to answer, but I wouldn't say an emphatic 'Yes' or 'No'.