BookRags Student Essay In Romulus My Father, Christine Should Be Condemned Rather Than Pitied. Do You Agree?

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In Romulus My Father, Christine Should Be Condemned Rather Than Pitied. Do You Agree?
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In Romulus My Father, Christine Should Be Condemned Rather Than Pitied. Do You Agree? Essay
In Romulus my Father, Christine Gaita should be condemned rather than pitied. Discuss.
"There is no sickness worse than mental sickness", remarks Romulus about the terrors of madness and depression in Raimond Gaita's memoir, Romulus, my Father. In this biography dedicated to his father, Romulus, Raimond Gaita explores the suffering endured and caused by his mentally ill mother, Christine. Christine's constant abuse and neglect of her maternal role to Raimond and later Susan and Barbra of course should be condemned along with her infidelities and unfaithfulness to both significant men in her life. Despite outsiders' perceptive of Christine as a "Characterless woman", she ought to be pitied rather than condemned as her ability to be "puritanical", as in accordance with the society at that time and place, was marred by the state of her mental stability. Her ability to recover from her illness was further obscured by the physical and social environment. The criticism and lack of support received from her family and friends did not assist in her recovery at all.
Christine failed to adequately care for her children. The moment Raimond was born, he was in the care of Christine's family as she could not sufficiently provide the care he required. After the family's assisted passage to Australia, her neglect of Raimond became more prominent. Women visiting their husbands at Cairn Curran camp often informed Romulus that Raimond was "neglected and running wild." Only someone who is so self-consumed and self-indulged would not provide the vital and essential need of a young child. As a result of abandonment of her motherly duties, Raimond was brought up by his father; being denied the love and affection of his mother. "My father's devoted care of me contrasted obviously with her neglect" says Raimond about her incapacity as a mother. This fuelled hostility towards her by everyone who knew the plight of the father and son. To add to this, the thought that a family friend, Hora, cared more for the well-being of Raimond than his own mother, seemed to exemplify her selfish nature and also evoked disapproval of her character from many who knew her. Hora and Romulus worked alternative shifts so there was always someone to care for Raimond. Furthermore, the children she bore with Mitru, Susan and Barbra, were similarly subject to the neglect experienced by Raimond. Mitru would hurriedly rush home during his lunch breaks to care for Susan who would be left in her soiled nappy, unfed and unclean. After the death of Mitru, Christine was classified as a "hopeless case" who was not capable of caring for her children. As a result both Susan and Barbra were made wards of the state. In Australia, women were expected to follow strict puritanical views of society. At that time Christine's obvious selfish nature and neglect of her children, became an easy target for others' disapproval.
Not only could she not care for her children, she failed in her expected duties as a wife. Romulus, a man of strong moral values and virtues, sacrificed his dreams of furthering his passion and talents for the betterment of Christine's health and immigrated to Australia. It is on their passage to Australia that her infidelities came to light. Their relationship became tense and fraught. Romulus attempted numerous times to reconcile their relationship. Christine, however, chose to continue with her flirtations with many men, married or not. She was a "woman who liked men" and craved their attention. This not only angered and concerned Romulus, but it also outraged the wives of the men whom she had engaged in an affair. On numerous occasions, Romulus was approached and told "control your wife, she is stealing our husbands." For Christine, the affairs may have been to alleviate her feeling of desolation. For others indirectly involved, her actions only served to accumulate pain and hatred towards her. It was not only Romulus whom she "tormented with jealously" but Mitru also fell a victim to her promiscuous behavoiur. Her neglect of their child, Susan, unaffordable and constant spending-sprees, affairs and flirtation with numerous men all contributed to the demise of Mitru. He was constantly pushed to his limits by her selfish, erratic, promiscuous and violent behaviours. He sacrificed his life fearing that he may one day be driven to kill her as a consequence of her behaviour. In a society that values strong character, Christine was merely a "questionable character" not being able to fulfill her duties as a wife and a partner due to her self-indulging attitudes.
Despite the contempt towards Christine, induced by her neglect of her motherly duties and unfaithfulness as a wife, she ought to be given some sympathy as her actions and her behaviour were affected by her psychological illness. Christine fell a victim to a terrible psychological illness at a young age and its effect took toll on her at different stages of her life, and to different extent. Raimond describes her eyes as being filled with "haunted intensity...even at a young age, as though she feared she was doomed." This feeling of "doomed" may have been instigated by her mother's premonition in which she believed "this child I'm carrying will suffer." The knowledge that she will suffer through out her life, she felt doomed from the beginning and uninspired to deviate from her problems. She allowed them to accumulate. This resulted in the destruction of a stable family lifestyle that her husband hoped for. Romulus, of everyone, should have understood and supported her throughout her "dark" periods. He, like others, was oblivious to the degree of her illness and suffering and chose to condemn her. He would remind her that "he did not marry her because he loved her." His disapproval of her further pushed her deep into depression and "darkness." Her illness seemed to intensify in its nature after their immigration to Australia. This was displayed by her neglect of Raimond, ignoring his "elementary needs of feeding him and bathing." When Raimond was accused of stealing, his mother smacked him, "more because she was humiliated than because she was seriously troubled by what I had done." Her reasoning is often self-indulgent and self-concerning, not at all in the interest of her son. Her actions can only be attributed to her illnesses, which acted as a barrier for her to carry out her womanly duties appropriately and accordingly. It is the terrible nature of the illness which showed Christine as "lazy and irresponsible" to which she had no psychological control over. She is a victim of her actions and hence should be pitied.
To add to the unsupportive family and friends she had, the environment she lived in also contributed to her unstable behavoiur. Christine was brought up in the war-torn country of Germany. Romulus and Christine were forced to meet in hiding, fearing the Gestapo. Obviously the violent environment she was brought up in could possibly have been a major contributing factor to her psychological instability. Christine, a "troubled city girl from central Europe", was forced to adapt to the barren and desolate environment of Australia. She failed to see the hidden beauty of the landscape and longed the beautiful foliage of European trees. "A dead red gum...became for my mother her symbol of desolation." Racism towards Europeans which existed at that time, further added to her feeling of isolation. She was "desperately lonely" and "was glad of any conversation that came her way." It was her inner drive to eliminate loneliness from her life, which encouraged her to be unfaithful to her husband. The men and women of Baringhup in the fifties respected character; "honesty, loyalty, courage, charity and a capacity for hard work." But for Christine, "highly intelligent, deeply sensuous, anarchic and unstable", this emphasis on character provided the wrong conceptual environment for her to find herself and for others to understand her. Tom Lillie, having condemned Christine's actions, had no remorse in expressing his contempt towards her. The social and physical environment Christine was subject to were contributing factor to her obscure and erratic behaviours and therefore she should not be condemned but rather be shown sympathy for her plight.
Christine, a well educated woman of the mid nineties, is a victim of her psychological illness. Her infidelities, erratic and sometimes violent behaviour caused pain and suffering to many who loved and cared for her. Although her traits and actions are to be condemned, the acknowledgement that she has no control over her action should be considered and she be given a degree of sympathy. The extent of her illness was not recognised by the people around her at that time and their actions only fuelled her disintegration into insanity. This lack of understanding and acknowledgement resulted in the unfortunate demise of an unfortunate soul, Christine.

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