“At Wits End” by Emma Bombeck

Running head: AT WIT’S END

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At Wit’s End

‘At Wits End’ is a book by Emma Bombeck that shows gender inequality and how the American women in the 1960s were subjected to all household jobs. She uses humor as a social satire to expose the limitations that the middle-class suburban women used to encounter in the earlier days. The use of humor is the appropriate literary device for conveying the message, which could not be addressed openly since women of the 1960s were considered lesser beings by men who expected them to do all chores around the house. Emma uses humor since it is a methodology which is not limited to any age group and everybody responds to it. After enjoying the funny side of it, the audience will get the meaning in it and at the end, the message is communicated. In her book, she shows how the all the roles were done by the woman while the man did nothing (Bombeck p.11).

The children depended on her and the husband who never worked also expected her to provide for the family. He would rely on the wife even for the slightest thing like tying the shoelaces (Bombeckp.11). The implication here is the manner in which the woman was expected to execute every activity in the house. Bombeck (p.17) again shows how the woman has to wake up early tidy up the house and clear any mess, which could have happened the previous night like picking up misplaced socks and shoes. All her life, she is focused on staying in the house because the author says that, the only vision she has for her future is staying in the house which appears to be like a long winter full of the usual house chores (Bombeck, 18).

Bombeck uses humor to communicate the message of how women suffer in the hands of their husbands whom they are supposed to depend on and share the roles of a family. The book is suitable for the diverse population and the message will reach a large audience. Another reason Bombeck would have chosen to use humor in her book was to show the audience that the woman is a human being who deserves an equal chance for prosperity but not worth staying at home. At some point, she states how the woman is busy during the day that she needs glasses to see anything else apart from the work ahead of her (Bombeck p.17).The middle-class suburban woman in the 1960s according to Bombeck could not do anything else apart from taking care of her husband and children together with doing the house chores.

LeBoeuf (p.1) explains that the reason the authors like Bombeck use satire to pass a message is because the use of irony will protect them from the criticism by the readers. The author uses humor to point out the gender inequality in the 1960s and especially to the middle-class suburban American woman. Bombeck knew if she discusses the matter openly, her message may be limited to some people, so she was wise enough to apply humor as a satire to reach out to many people. LeBoeuf (p.2) affirms that satire is the best tool that critics use to get their message out to the world. In her book, Bombeck is criticizing the misuse of women and the gender inequality in carrying out the roles in a family. The use of humor has worked for her in the book ‘At Wit’s End’ and the message has been well conveyed to many people.


Bombeck, Erma. At Wit’s End. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, 1967. Internet resource.

LeBoeuf, Megan. The Power of Ridicule: An Analysis of Satire. University Of Rhode Islands. 2007. Web. http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1065=srhonorsprog

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“At Wits End” by Emma Bombeck. (2022, Feb 18). Retrieved from https://essaylab.com/essays/at-wits-end-by-emma-bombeck

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