Explain the irony of John Wright's name and the way he died.
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Well, Mr. Wright was NOT Minnie's "Mr. Right". He was cruel, angry, and intent on isolating her from her friends, family, and the things she enjoyed doing. When she bought a bird to sing with as she used to sing in the church choir, he killed it by wringing its neck. It is most fitting, then, that he should also be strangled.
The irony lies in "Wright" being translated to "right." Mr. Wright did not treat his wife well at all. He destroyed two very important parts of her life: her love of singing and her pet canary, who provided her with so much joy with its singing. Remember that when she was younger, her husband suppressed her love of singing, which had been one of her passions. This soured her and crushed her spirit. After years of this type of abuse, the death of her canary was the last straw. He had killed the one thing that she loved at that point, so he was, in fact, very wrong for treating her so badly. It truly was a form of abuse. Also, because he killed the bird by wringing its neck, it is ironic that he died by the same method.
There is also a possibility that 'wright' is used as a maker of things. Here Wright the husband has made his wife into a miserable slattern, and then into a killer. I also think there could also be some connection with 'wright' the past tense of 'wring/wrought' as in killing the bird - although I am struggling to find concrete evidence of this.
All excellent points. How about the fact that Mr. Wright thought he was always right? He deliberately kept his wife oppressed, even refusing to put in a phone line, apparently to keep her from talking to anyone or developing any friendships. Perhaps he was afraid she'd somehow discover she didn't have to put up with him. And, ironically, she found out on her own, despite his best, most right, efforts.
Or how about Mr. Wright thinking he had the right to abuse his wife and kill another living creature--and then ironically he dies because his wife finally takes control of her own life and has the right to protect herself from abuse.
I think #5 makes a number of excellent points in focusing on how Mr. Wright thought he was always "right." Although he is a character that we never meet in the story, his arrogance and oppression is made clear through the way that he transformed Minnie Foster, the fun-loving, vibrant young lady, into Mrs. Wright, the reclusive and lonely woman who has had her spirit crushed by her husband. Of course, the deeper issues of the play concerns the rights that men and women have, and how, in a patriarchal society, men abuse their rights.
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