The Theme of Women Objectivization in The Moving Finger Analysis

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In the story ‘The Moving Finger’ by Edith Wharton, the author explores the theme of treating women as objects. The protagonist, Ralph Grancy, is portrayed as needing a woman by his side and modifying a painting of his deceased wife as an object of comfort. On the other hand, Claydon is cynical and believes that he owns Mrs. Grancy’s love because he had an affair with her and had control over the painting. The story also touches upon themes of insanity, the need of women for men, and cynicism. Overall, the story presents a powerful message about the objectification of women.

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The story ‘The Moving Finger’ deals with a powerful theme which is the treatment of women as objects. Do you agree? Through the story ‘The Moving Finger’ Edith Wharton intended to make readers know more about how hard it can be for a man to live lonely and how different it is when having a woman on your side. In the text, the author characterized both the treatment of women by men and the importance and need of women for men, as well as insanity and cynicism. In the first place, insanity and need of women for men are two relevant themes in Wharton’s story. It is important to clarify that Ralph Grancy had reasonable reasons for being so depressed and mad, because of the death of his two wives. Not to mention the fact that his second wife was the love of his life, and, after dying, a part of him also died; he reached the culminating point of misery and loneliness. “[…] her nearness mocked me with the loss of the real woman […]”. “Life is a big thing […] but I got so tired of looking at it alone!” These two quotations show evidence of how important and needed women are for men, in this case for Mr. Grancy. Besides, he modified a painting of her wife in order to make her seem older, since, before she died, he had been planning to reach old age with her. This was due to the fact that he wanted to feel accompanied and also to have a similar age so as not to feel lonely and older than her.

Moreover, here he treated her like an object since he wanted to make her be part of the house by having the painting. “[…] to him it was only a picture lost, to me it was my life regained”. His wife meant a part of his life for him. “[…] the portrait became like a beautiful mausoleum in which she had been buried alive […]”. He felt her wife was part of the house because of the painting, so he treated her like an object. In addition to this, an important theme that is present in Claydon is cynicism, which is connected with the idea of treating women as objects. Claydon was cynical with Ralph Grancy because he was in control of the painting (he could modify it, by making her look older, younger, uglier or whatever he wanted to) and mistakenly believed that by having the capacity of altering it and having had an affair with her, he owned Mrs. Grancy’s love, which in fact belonged to Ralph. “Doesn’t she belong to me now?”

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Claydon thought that by having created and being able to modify the painting, Mrs. Grancy belonged to him. Last, the painter was cynical for the reason that he treated her like an object for making a painting of her and believing that, through it, he knew her very well. Taking everything into consideration, I agree with the fact that ‘The Moving Finger’ is a story that deals with the theme of treating women as objects for some reasons. These include that both Ralph Grancy and Claydon treated her as an object; the painter, in order to control her, and her husband, for his relief. However, there are other important themes in the story, such as insanity, need of women for men and cynicism.

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The Theme of Women Objectivization in The Moving Finger Analysis. (2016, Nov 13). Retrieved from

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