Discuss how male authority is undermined or supported by Mrs. Bentley in As For Me And My House by Sinclair Ross. Please pay special attention to how Mrs. Bentley is frustrated with her husband's position in the church.

In As for Me and My House, Mrs. Bentley is strongly supportive of male authority, both in the person of her husband, Philip, and in the patriarchal institution of the church. However, she feels that she is failing to support her husband as effectively as she wishes.

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In As for Me and My House, the narrator is known only as Mrs. Bentley, wife of the Reverend Philip Bentley, so completely subordinated to him that she has no name of her own, and is known solely by the name she took when she married him. She has also subordinated her ambitions to his, as she once wanted to play the piano professionally but "forgot it all, almost overnight" when they met. Mrs. Bentley realized immediately that she could not have a career of her own if she married the Reverend Bentley, as she admits:

Submitting to him that way, yielding my identity—it seemed the way life was intended.

The novel begins as the couple are unpacking in their new home in the town of Horizon, where Philip has to preach a sermon the next day. This introduces two of the main stresses on Mrs. Bentley's marriage, both caused by the church. First, they have to move house frequently, and have little control over where they live. Second, Philip is always preoccupied with his work. This preoccupation is reflected in the title of the novel, which comes from the Book of Joshua 24:15:

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Even when he is unfaithful to her, Philip expects Mrs. Bentley to "serve the Lord" by playing the part of the pastor's wife to perfection. She is, therefore, supporting male authority in two ways, first as a wife subordinated to her husband, then as a servant of the Lord, subordinated to the patriarchal institution of the church.

Because she is afraid of speaking directly to her husband, and the church is an abstract concept, Mrs. Bentley vents her anger on a day to day basis on the people who make up the congregation. For her and, she believes, for Philip, religion is a poor substitute for art, and she looks down on the people around her whom she considers too uncultured to appreciate the talents of either of them. Her assumption of superiority over them is driven by her feeling of inferiority to Philip, as she fails to provide him with children, or command his attention and respect. Therefore, although she devotes herself to supporting her husband and his authority, both as a man and as a pastor, Mrs. Bentley feels that she does not do so effectively enough.

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