Aristotle on Unnatural Mother

Jen Stafford

Unnatural mother written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a prominent feminist writer in the 1890s, writes about the life of a mother, Esther, who was raised in a unique environment and carried over what she learned and experienced into motherhood. The story is told from the viewpoint of women whom were well off or had children except for Maria Amelia Briggs, Mis’ Briggs youngest daughter.

Esther’s mom passed away leaving her to be raised by her heartbroken father. Esther grew up as a tom boy in the eyes of the women, queer in the eyes of the matrons, and adorned by children her own age. Esther grew up and her father taught her about reproductive health and sexual diseases. She married an artist who made pictures in magazines. The entire family was referred to as queer for most of the time due to the unorthodox manner of living. She was known around the town as always having neighboring children hang out with her but when she had her own child, she was said to have never clothed it and was called an unnatural mother by Mis’ Briggs and the other women.

According to Aristotle, the highest good of human existence is happiness (Aristotle 332). Esther arguably reached happiness by flourishing and reaching her full potential and notably not conforming to the strict gender roles at the time. She didn’t grow out her hair or dress to the standard of young women at the time. This is partially due to the lack of the presence of a mother and her upbringing from her father. Esther also reached happiness and the sensual lifestyle of Nicomachean ethics by achieving pleasure (Aristotle 332). Aristotle viewed happiness as a person’s entire life rather than brief depictions. A good person will behave in a virtuous manner and even when faced with misfortune, a good person will bear themselves well and not descend into mean-spiritedness. In the end, Esther sacrificed her family in order to save the people in the village from a broken dam. She achieved happiness by leaving a lasting effect on the community.

Aristotle and Unnatural Mother

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