My Monster: The Fear of Being Alone Essay

Introduction.

The fear of being alone is a psychological attitude that is very difficult to recognize. A person can suffer from it all their life but not even understand it. They explain the desire to constantly be in the company to themselves by character traits, for example, sociability. At the same time, they do not even suspect that, in fact, their life is controlled by an evil creature. Sometimes the fear of loneliness turns into a monster, becoming so strong that its destructive nature prevents a person from living a full life.

The monster blurs the line between the natural human unwillingness to become an outcast and a disease, subjugating all spheres of life, and gradually absorbing the thirst for life. Thus, my monster is the fear of being alone, and it is similar to several literary characters at once: Grendel’s mother, the Demon Lover, and the fear of a couple from Once Upon a Time.

Fighting My Monster

When the monster of the fear of loneliness appeared in my life, I tried to fight it, but sooner or later, my strength ran out, and I could not resist its attacks. Now it is smaller than before because I realized that I need to try to be friends with it. When I am overcome with anxiety, I do meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises. I try to feel my body, to be alone with myself, without being distracted by external stimuli, to feel what a blessing it is to be myself here and now. When I find the strength to approach the monster and look it straight in the eyes, it no longer seems so scary; this way, I manage to keep my monster at bay.

Comparison With Literature

My monster is more like Grendel’s mother than Grendel himself or the dragon. After a glorious and difficult victory over Grendel, Beowulf receives well-deserved praise, rich gifts, and gratitude from Hrothgar and all Danish warriors. Everyone sits down to feast and celebrate and does not expect the arrival of Grendel’s furious mother, who bursts into the hall and grabs Hrothgar’s closest friend and adviser (Mittman and Hensel 78). Being weaker and more cautious than her son, she immediately runs away to her swamp, dragging the victim with her.

My “Grendel,” whom I killed under the cheers of society, was self-love. Since childhood, I have heard that praising myself and rejoicing in my successes is bad and is called selfishness and arrogance. Therefore, I gradually began to think that I was worse than others. Because of this, I had a feeling that no one wanted me in their life, started to feel suspicion towards relatives, friends, and family, and the need for constant confirmation of feelings. And then, unexpectedly, like Grendel’s mother, the monster of loneliness appeared: after all, I killed my love for myself.

Once Upon a Time

My fear is more like the fear of a white married couple from “Once Upon a Time” than the fear from “The Thing in The Forest” since it is purely internal. The heroes are convinced that blacks are guilty of all the crimes taking place in their neighborhood (Rizzardi 792). They have a prejudice, which in this case is not supported by external facts; therefore, their fear is purely internal and irrational.

My fear of being left alone also has no external evidence. My parents were never cold to me: they always paid attention to me, kissed and hugged me, and paid a lot of attention to my feelings and desires. My friends also always say that I am a wonderful friend, that they appreciate me, and I am dear to them without any conditions. Nevertheless, it still seems to me that I can be left alone; in any criticism, I find confirmation of my words, even if the remark made was fair.

The Demon Lover

My monster is somewhat similar to the demon from “The Demon Lover”; first of all, he is a magical creature from the fantasy world, not belonging to the human world. In addition, at the end of the novel, Callie realizes that she needs a demon; she is drawn to darkness. The heroine falls in love with her demon, and this love turns out to be mutual (Fan 103). The demon himself tells her that a lie told out of love is a lie for good.

My monster is also an unreal creature: there are many people around me who love and appreciate me. My demon is necessary for me to love myself again; like Callie, I will be able to overcome it only when I become friends with it. Thus, despite the fact that my monster is lying to me, it is doing it for my own good so that I can treat myself better and accept myself.

The only one whom nature has endowed with a sensual form of life is the man. This is both a gift and a curse at the same time: human fears are a dark side of our sensuality. Referring to the works of British classics, a general list of human fears known today can be made. The monsters of each of the characters live not only on the pages of novels but in each of us, so everyone can turn to the heroes for help. Looking at them, the reader learns how to fight their demons, keep them at bay, or, in my case, become friends with them.

Works Cited

Fan, Mengyuan. “A Study on The Traumatic Theme in Elizabeth Bowen’s “The Demon Lover”. Journal of Contemporary Educational Research , vol. 5, no. 4, 2021, pp. 103-105.

Mittman, Asa Simon, and Marcus Hensel, editors. Primary Sources on Monsters . Amsterdam University Press, 2018.

Rizzardi, Biancamaria. “Once Upon a Time” By Nadine Gordimer: A Fairy Tale for Peace.” Forum Editrice Universitaria Udinese , vol. 5, no. 19, 2019, pp. 782-801. Web.

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Research essay: a ‘monster’ and its humanity.

my monster essay

Professor of English Susan J. Wolfson is the editor of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: A Longman Cultural Edition and co-editor, with Ronald Levao, of The Annotated Frankenstein.  

Published in January 1818, Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus has never been out of print or out of cultural reference. “Facebook’s Frankenstein Moment: A Creature That Defies Technology’s Safeguards” was the headline on a New York Times business story Sept. 22 — 200 years on. The trope needed no footnote, although Kevin Roose’s gloss — “the scientist Victor Frankenstein realizes that his cobbled-together creature has gone rogue” — could use some adjustment: The Creature “goes rogue” only after having been abandoned and then abused by almost everyone, first and foremost that undergraduate scientist. Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and CEO Sheryl Sandberg, attending to profits, did not anticipate the rogue consequences: a Frankenberg making. 

The original Frankenstein told a terrific tale, tapping the idealism in the new sciences of its own age, while registering the throb of misgivings and terrors. The 1818 novel appeared anonymously by a down-market press (Princeton owns one of only 500 copies). It was a 19-year-old’s debut in print. The novelist proudly signed herself “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley” when it was reissued in 1823, in sync with a stage concoction at London’s Royal Opera House in August. That debut ran for nearly 40 nights; it was staged by the Princeton University Players in May 2017. 

In a seminar that I taught on Frankenstein in various contexts at Princeton in the fall of 2016 — just weeks after the 200th anniversary of its conception in a nightmare visited on (then) Mary Godwin in June 1816 — we had much to consider. One subject was the rogue uses and consequences of genomic science of the 21st century. Another was the election season — in which “Frankenstein” was a touchstone in the media opinions and parodies. Students from sciences, computer technology, literature, arts, and humanities made our seminar seem like a mini-university. Learning from each other, we pondered complexities and perplexities: literary, social, scientific, aesthetic, and ethical. If you haven’t read Frankenstein (many, myself included, found the tale first on film), it’s worth your time. 

READ MORE  PAW Goes to the Movies: ‘Victor Frankenstein,’ with Professor Susan Wolfson

Scarcely a month goes by without some development earning the prefix Franken-, a near default for anxieties about or satires of new events. The dark brilliance of Frankenstein is both to expose “monstrosity” in the normal and, conversely, to humanize what might seem monstrously “other.” When Shelley conceived Frankenstein, Europe was scarred by a long war, concluding on Waterloo fields in May 1815. “Monster” was a ready label for any enemy. Young Frankenstein begins his university studies in 1789, the year of the French Revolution. In 1790, Edmund Burke’s international best-selling Reflections on the French Revolution recoiled at the new government as a “monster of a state,” with a “monster of a constitution” and “monstrous democratic assemblies.” Within a few months, another international best-seller, Tom Paine’s The Rights of Man, excoriated “the monster Aristocracy” and cheered the American Revolution for overthrowing a “monster” of tyranny.

Following suit, Mary Shelley’s father, William Godwin, called the ancien régime a “ferocious monster”; her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was on the same page: Any aristocracy was an “artificial monster,” the monarchy a “luxurious monster,” and Europe’s despots a “race of monsters in human shape.” Frankenstein makes no direct reference to the Revolution, but its first readers would have felt the force of its setting in the 1790s, a decade that also saw polemics for (and against) the rights of men, women, and slaves. 

England would abolish its slave trade in 1807, but Colonial slavery was legal until 1833. Abolitionists saw the capitalists, investors, and masters as the moral monsters of the global economy. Apologists regarded the Africans as subhuman, improvable perhaps by Christianity and a work ethic, but alarming if released, especially the men. “In dealing with the Negro,” ultra-conservative Foreign Secretary George Canning lectured Parliament in 1824, “we are dealing with a being possessing the form and strength of a man, but the intellect only of a child. To turn him loose in the manhood of his physical strength ... would be to raise up a creature resembling the splendid fiction of a recent romance.” He meant Frankenstein. 

Mary Shelley heard about this reference, and knew, moreover, that women (though with gilding) were a slave class, too, insofar as they were valued for bodies rather than minds, were denied participatory citizenship and most legal rights, and were systemically subjugated as “other” by the masculine world. This was the argument of her mother’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), which she was rereading when she was writing Frankenstein. Unorthodox Wollstonecraft — an advocate of female intellectual education, a critic of the institution of marriage, and the mother of two daughters conceived outside of wedlock — was herself branded an “unnatural” woman, a monstrosity. 

Shelley had her own personal ordeal, which surely imprints her novel. Her parents were so ready for a son in 1797 that they had already chosen the name “William.” Even worse: When her mother died from childbirth, an awful effect was to make little Mary seem a catastrophe to her grieving father. No wonder she would write a novel about a “being” rejected from its first breath. The iconic “other” in Frankenstein is of course this horrifying Creature (he’s never a “human being”). But the deepest force of the novel is not this unique situation but its reverberation of routine judgments of beings that seem “other” to any possibility of social sympathy. In the 1823 play, the “others” (though played for comedy) are the tinker-gypsies, clad in goatskins and body paint (one is even named “Tanskin” — a racialized differential).

Victor Frankenstein greets his awakening creature as a “catastrophe,” a “wretch,” and soon a “monster.” The Creature has no name, just these epithets of contempt. The only person to address him with sympathy is blind, spared the shock of the “countenance.” Readers are blind this way, too, finding the Creature only on the page and speaking a common language. This continuity, rather than antithesis, to the human is reflected in the first illustrations: 

my monster essay

In the cover for the 1823 play, above, the Creature looks quite human, dishy even — alarming only in size and that gaze of expectation. The 1831 Creature, shown on page 29, is not a patent “monster”: It’s full-grown, remarkably ripped, human-looking, understandably dazed. The real “monster,” we could think, is the reckless student fleeing the results of an unsupervised undergraduate experiment gone rogue. 

In Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein pleads sympathy for the “human nature” in his revulsion. “I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health ... but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room.” Repelled by this betrayal of “beauty,” Frankenstein never feels responsible, let alone parental. Shelley’s genius is to understand this ethical monstrosity as a nightmare extreme of common anxiety for expectant parents: What if I can’t love a child whose physical formation is appalling (deformed, deficient, or even, as at her own birth, just female)? 

The Creature’s advent in the novel is not in this famous scene of awakening, however. It comes in the narrative that frames Frankenstein’s story: a polar expedition that has become icebound. Far on the ice plain, the ship’s crew beholds “the shape of a man, but apparently of gigantic stature,” driving a dogsled. Three paragraphs on, another man-shape arrives off the side of the ship on a fragment of ice, alone but for one sled dog. “His limbs were nearly frozen, and his body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering,” the captain records; “I never saw a man in so wretched a condition.” This dreadful man focuses the first scene of “animation” in Frankenstein: “We restored him to animation by rubbing him with brandy, and forcing him to swallow a small quantity. As soon as he shewed signs of life, we wrapped him up in blankets, and placed him near the chimney of the kitchen-stove. By slow degrees he recovered ... .” 

The re-animation (well before his name is given in the novel) turns out to be Victor Frankenstein. A crazed wretch of a “creature” (so he’s described) could have seemed a fearful “other,” but is cared for as a fellow human being. His subsequent tale of his despicably “monstrous” Creature is scored with this tremendous irony. The most disturbing aspect of this Creature is his “humanity”: this pathos of his hope for family and social acceptance, his intuitive benevolence, bitterness about abuse, and skill with language (which a Princeton valedictorian might envy) that solicits fellow-human attention — all denied by misfortune of physical formation. The deepest power of Frankenstein, still in force 200 years on, is not its so-called monster, but its exposure of “monster” as a contingency of human sympathy.  

by Walter Dean Myers

Monster essay questions.

The novel has a sub-theme of gang violence. How are gangs presented in the novel?

The central gang in the novel is called The Diablos (a Spanish word which translates to "Devils"). The Diablos and other gangs run the Harlem streets, and members of the community consider the gangs to be more of an authoritative presence than law enforcement. This complicated power dynamic explains why the detectives are unable to get unbiased accounts from potential eyewitnesses.

During Osvaldo's testimony, the cross-examiner points to Osvaldo's involvement in the Diablos in order to account for his violent tendencies. In this way, Osvaldo is not seen as "innocent until proven guilty." Rather, his gang involvement suggests that he regularly robs and harms people in his community.

What does Kathy O'Brien's rejection of Steve's gesture of friendship tell us about Steve's expectations?

O'Brien methodically and diligently handles Steve's defense case. Due to her hard work and effort, Steve believes that she truly believes in his innocence. However, O'Brien's behavior demonstrates that she sees her work as Steve's defense attorney strictly as a job. She does not get emotionally involved in the case, and she does not reveal any aspect of her interiority throughout the novel. When Steve learns that he has been acquitted, O'Brien's reaction suggests that she may actually believe that her client is guilty.

Mr. Sawicki believes that Steve's film footage speaks deeply about his character. Is it valid to judge an author's morality based on his or her body of artistic work?

Steve's writing process is his way of coping with the traumatic events in his life. However, Steve also distances himself from his reality by exaggerating the events in the format of a screenplay. The screenplay is a work of art, and thus there is not one objective way for it to be judged. It is clear that Steve's screenplay is an effective mechanism for distraction and creative control. However, it is incredibly difficult to judge someone's character based on their artistic creations. Although art provides an insight into the mind of its creator, its meaning must be seen on its own merits, rather than associating it simply with the views of its creator.

The plot revolves around a story of conspirators and murderers. What is the difference between these two different roles and their respective punishments by law?

A conspirator is someone who is involved in a plan to do something harmful or illegal. A murderer is someone who kills another person. Steve Harmon is on trial for being a conspirator, as he was allegedly the lookout boy in the drugstore robbery. On the other hand, James King is on trial for shooting and killing Arnaldo Nesbitt. They face the same sentence. During her prosecution, Petrocelli argues that all of the four men that are allegedly involved in the murder are equally culpable and should thus receive the same sentence.

Steve's involvement in the murder of Mr. Nesbitt affects more people than just himself. Who are the other people affected by Steve's behavior?

Steve's family suffers as a result of the crime, both as a unit and individually. Steve's younger brother must cope with the absence of his role model. Mrs. Harmon defends her son's innocence, but she is deeply concerned for his emotional and physical well-being. Mr. Harmon's belief and trust in his son wavers, ultimately leading him to abandon his family.

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Monster Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Monster is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

What does Steve’s response to one other characters or events in the story reveal about him

Steve draws upon his interests in film and storytelling and writes down his experiences in the format of a movie script. Whether Steve was actually involved in the crime or not remains ambiguous to the reader. There is no surveillance footage or...

Thursday, July 9th (6 questions)

Steve thinks the students view him as a threatening prisoner. What do you means by pictures?

Please post your questions separately.

Is justice served at the end of Monster? What is meant by justice?

In context, this is hard to say. Throughout the novel, it is never confirmed that Steve did or did not play role in the crime. In my opinion, Steve was likely innocent, but those are my perceptions and many would probably disagree. Either way,...

Study Guide for Monster

Monster study guide contains a biography of Walter Dean Myers, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About Monster
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  • Character List

Essays for Monster

Monster essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Monster by Walter Dean Myers.

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my monster essay

Study Like a Boss

Personal Narrative: The Monster Essay

Boom! The vicious, metal monster clasped down on its next victim, drawing the helpless people further into the depths of its massive body. The monster slithered like a ravenous snake as it pulled its prey along. The beast flew high above the clouds nearly touching heaven and then bolted like lightning towards the ground faster than the speed of light . As it peered over the edge of the cliff, I saw the monster look me in the eyes and scream much louder than any noise I had heard before. In my mind I was in line to sign up for my death sentence.

On any normal day, I would be running far away from the monster, but today was not just any normal day. Today was different. Today everything changed. Today time seemed to slow down to a halt, everything grew larger than life, and even the sun seemed to glare down at me as though it was watching my every move. That was when I knew, I would begin the war with the cruel beast. Thus, like a brave knight I began to prepare myself for the battle that I would face later on. Little did I know, the battle was going to come much sooner than I had planned.

For many years my dad had tried to get me to ride a rollercoaster, but fear always seemed to hold me back from trying a ride. However, on this day I would push through the fear that always held me back. Today I conquered fear. Let’s go back to where this whole story begins. It all began only two days before, my family and I traveled to what I thought was the most amazing place in the entire world, Branson. We arrived at the condo and unpacked our bags. Little did I know what was going to happen later on that week. Ever since I was a little kid I had loved Silver Dollar City and I was excited every time that I got to go there.

After the first couple days had passed, we finally got to go to the old-fashion park, but when we arrived I saw it. It was there standing high above the trees. It stood much higher than before and its jaws seemed to clamp down harder. Today something was much different than before. The sight of the monster shot chills down my spine. It peared over the clouds and stared at me telling me to come closer to it. “I couldn’t let it get to me,” I thought. “I have to stay away from it or my life is over. ” Little did I know what was getting ready to happen to me and my dad.

Even though my family and I were in the small, home-like town that I had always loved, I was focused on the serpent that climbed high above me. The slithering serpent caused me to feel frightened all day long and I ultimately dreaded my day because of it. I knew that my dad was going to try to push me forward to ride the ride, but I was determined that I wouldn’t ride it. The day passed extremely slowly. After what felt like an eternity of time, the moment that I had been dreading came. My dad tried to draw me into a trap that I could never escape.

By the time I finally gave in my dad had spent an hour trying to coax me. I ended up giving in to an epidemic that I would never be able to cure. I inched my way forward to the mile-long line that led to the mouth of the beast. I traveled in a nervous shuffle, my legs shook in terror, my heart pounded in my chest, and my lungs burned as all of the air was sucked out of them. However, the line kept moving forward at a speed much slower than I had ever seen. An hours worth of waiting led me to this one moment, I was at the end of the line. That was when it all seemed to happen.

My heart was digging its way out of my chest and I was ready to run as far away from the scene as I could. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I would back out like I had every other day . “What am I thinking? ” I thought. That wasn’t going to happen, not today. Today everything was different. I turned back to run as far away as I could, but then came a hiss from the monster’s tongue telling us that it had two open seats. My dad was still determined to snag me and take me into the trap. He raised his hands and in that moment I knew the seats were mine.

It was then that I knew what my dad was doing. He was pushing me to face my fears and battle the beast. I sat down in the seat as the beast’s jaw clamped down around me. I couldn’t move at all. There I sat, paralyzed as the beast hissed its sign of approval. “I will never see home again,” I imagined . “I didn’t even get to say goodbye to my mom and sister. ” This was it. I counted down my final moments. Three. Two. One. Crack! My life was now in the hands of a big ball of metal. I moved forward preparing to be swallowed. The serpent began to rise towards the sky ready to strike me dead.

Then, it shot downward whipping me through a treacherous course, but soon after I flew back up I saw it again. This time it looked different than before. The contraption was no beast at all. It wasn’t out to kill me or to hurt me even. It was there to show me the world, overcome fear, and experience the thrill. It made me into the fearless warrior that my dad was trying to get me to be. If it hadn’t been for that one day in Silver Dollar City, I would still view rollercoasters as big, killer monsters that wanted to swallow me alive. I would have flinched at the sight of something that now brings me great joy.

Fear always held me back from fun times and good memories, but by overcoming my fears I opened my mind to a maze of possibilities and outcomes. It is so funny to watch myself every time that I get on a rollercoaster now and thinking back to what I did before. I will always remember that day in Silver Dollar City that changed my perspective on fun forever. This moment would become the start of many great memories with my family and friends. The sensation of the wind through my hair and the thrill in my chest would lead me to face more and more fears. I was changed forever because of this moment. This was where it would all start.

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Essay on The Friendly Monster Under My Bed

The Friendly Monster Under My Bed

Once upon a time, in a cozy little room, I had a secret friend. It wasn’t a human friend, a pet, or a stuffed animal. It was a friendly monster who lived under my bed!

You might be thinking, “Monsters are supposed to be scary!” But this monster wasn’t scary at all. In fact, he was the friendliest monster you could ever imagine.

I discovered my monster friend one night when I couldn’t sleep. I peeked under my bed with a flashlight, and there he was, smiling at me with big, googly eyes. He had green fur, polka-dotted horns, and a long, swirly tail.

“Hi there!” I said, feeling a little surprised but not scared at all.

The friendly monster introduced himself as “Fluffy.” I guess he was called Fluffy because his fur was as soft as a cloud. Fluffy had a magical ability. He could glow in the dark, so he lit up my room like a nightlight when I was scared of the dark.

Fluffy and I became fast friends. We talked about all sorts of things, like our favorite ice cream flavors and the funny shapes we could find in the clouds. Fluffy even told me stories about his adventures in the monster world. He went on treasure hunts with his monster pals and sometimes helped lost kittens find their way home.

Fluffy was always there when I needed him. If I had a bad dream, he would chase the scary things away with his friendly roars. He was the best bedtime buddy I could ever wish for.

We had so much fun together. We played hide-and-seek, made up silly songs, and had tea parties with my stuffed animals. Fluffy was the life of the party, and he could juggle pillows like a circus clown!

One day, my mom found out about my friendly monster friend. She was a little surprised at first, but when she met Fluffy, she saw how kind and gentle he was. Mom even let us have a special “Monster’s Tea Party” in the living room, and we all had a blast.

Fluffy and I kept our friendship secret from everyone else. That way, he could be my special friend under the bed, and we could have our own little world of fun.

As I grew older, I started to outgrow my fear of the dark, and I didn’t need Fluffy’s glowing light as much. But he never left my side. He told me that even though I was getting bigger, I would always have a friend in him.

So, my dear friend, that’s the story of the friendly monster under my bed. He was the best friend a kid could ever have. And remember, sometimes the things that seem scary at first can turn out to be the most wonderful friends of all.

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my monster essay

In My Marriage Money Was a Trap. After My Divorce It Was My Freedom

my monster essay

F our months after my divorce, I went to a party in New York City where a wine-drunk woman grilled me about my split. How did I manage? Did I get the house?

 This line of questioning was not unfamiliar. In the aftermath of my divorce, a lot of women asked me how I’d done it, and at this party, flushed from wine myself, I told her honestly that I was broke. But, I added, I was happy. She looked at me skeptically and said, “Money is important.” I’d think of her two years later when I finally dug myself out of divorce debt.

When I married my husband at 22, I barely knew how to balance a checkbook (we still did that then), and I had no idea what a 401(k) was. Before we got married, when my father-in-law wanted to talk to us about money, I was a compliant pupil. He’d mapped out my husband’s annual salary for his new job as an engineer in Excel, walking us through how much we could spend. It was immediately clear to me that the two of them had already worked on this together. In the box marked “rent” was the correct figure for the apartment my husband was living in, the one I’d move into after the wedding. The spreadsheet also factored in payments for my college loans.

Read More: I Got Divorce. But My Family Is Still Whole

The power dynamic was clear – I had nothing; I knew nothing. And I would adhere to the rules of the budget because I was the one bringing in debt and no assets. The concepts my husband’s father talked us through were a blur: high-yield savings account, 401(k) matching, Roth IRAs. But other things came into sharp focus. He said my debt would have to be paid down immediately. Debt was shameful; you could tell by the way my husband and his father looked at each other. We’d use every penny of my job (and I was still unemployed) to pay it down and live entirely off my husband’s income until it was gone.

Here was how we were going to do that:

$10 a month for haircuts

$200 a month for groceries

$10 for personal items.

"How does that even work?" I said, too embarrassed to tell them tampons would cost more than $10 a month.

"Even cheap shampoo costs $5, and..." I was also thinking about makeup. Even the cheap stuff, which was all I had, could set you back $50, and I needed that if I was going to find a job to pay off my loans.

"The $10 a month accumulates," my husband explained like I was a toddler. "So, in five months, when you need to restock, you’ll have $50." Five months to make a bottle of Suave 2-in-1 last. This was the start of a pattern that would continue throughout our marriage: even when I made money, I didn’t have control of how it was spent.

Marriage has always been about money. The first marriages were alliances between families to strengthen economic ties. A woman exchanged for gifts to ally the two families, to ensure the continuity of inheritance and of course purity of blood. As Western culture evolved, marriage, still a contract, became about mutual understanding and affection. But laws governing the economic freedom of women were slow to catch up. Women couldn’t apply for mortgages or open credit cards in their own names until the 1970s.

Read More: Why I Stayed in a Marriage That Was Making Me Miserable

There is an enduring narrative that marriage is about love. That the guiding light of our unions is the sweep-me-off-my-feet romance depicted in movies. And we convince ourselves that what underpins our unions isn’t economic. But the reality is different than the fairy tales. People rarely date or marry outside their socioeconomic status, which reinforces privilege and class boundaries. Wealth inequality between married partners overwhelmingly favors the husband in a heterosexual relationship, which can leave the wife with little financial freedom and stuck in a relationship that can be uncomfortable or even dangerous. And while more and more women are out-earning their husbands, they are still in the minority . Women in the U.S. still earn only 82 cents to the male dollar , and mothers earn 74 cents on average to a father’s dollar. Even if a woman comes into a marriage earning the same as her husband, that equality drops o ff as women age. And while wives still manage the day-to-day expenses of grocery shopping, it’s men who retain the majority of financial control.

A 2021 YouGov poll found that 35% of women are completely or somewhat financially dependent on their partner, compared to 11% of men. And a Glamour survey found that one in three women have stayed in a relationship because they didn’t have the money to leave . A culture that underpays women is a culture that forces them into economic codependence and traps them when they want out. But no one wants to think about that when they are walking into a relationship – love is supposed to be bigger than all of that.

Read More: You're Fighting With Your Partner All Wrong

I knew money would be tight when I left. I didn’t have access to our joint account and had to set up a secret account to save money for a lawyer. I wrote marketing copy for extra money and would deposit the checks there. Despite this, I was poor during the divorce. Friends loaned me money for groceries. I ghost-wrote op-eds and wrote even more marketing copy. My parents bought my kids their Christmas gifts. Even then, my life mostly ran on nearly maxed-out credit cards.

Still, a few months after I moved out, I went to buy new mascara and realized how free I felt. If I wanted the $30 mascara, there would be no disapproval. No argument. No silent treatment until I relented and admitted I’d screwed up. It felt like a small thing, just mascara, but it was everything. While most women who divorce find themselves financially struggling, the majority don’t regret their decision. According to one study, 73% of divorced women are happier than they were when they were married, even if they were poorer.

A recent spate of books and articles argue for marriage as a solution for our financial woes, as women outside the heterosexual family structure do not do as well economically as those who are married, but what is often excluded from that conversation is the unpaid labor that allows a man to work all day. If marriage is a means of keeping and preserving wealth, it’s at least in part because often one partner performs the functions of cook, house cleaner, chauffeur, shopper, all without compensation. Even women who outearn their husbands still perform this unpaid labor at higher rates than male partners.

When my friend was divorcing his stay-at-home wife, his lawyer told him he should have paid her a salary. Paying her would have been a way to value her work and give her an income. And it would have amounted to less in alimony. When my friend told me this, I was stunned. Imagine: Paying a woman for her work would have benefited everyone in the end. It was certainly a far cry from my husband’s request during our divorce that I compensate him $10,000 for his contributions to my brain. I laughed and the joke became a punchline I employed in my group chats and on my lady dates. Until once, my friend Serena said, “You should have replied, ‘I wonder what my other body parts cost? My virginity?’ You should have charged him for damage to your uterus for having children.” I was sitting in her kitchen, watching her cook, and hearing her say a thing that cut me to my core because it was true. Is that all I was? Just a calculation?

Three years after my divorce, I sat down with a financial consultant named Stephanie, because I refused to talk to men about money. I was terrified, remembering the shame that the budget talks with my husband had given me.

I’d been recently fired from my job at a newspaper, the one I’d taken to level out my finances, and I knew my income would be inconsistent. I wanted a plan. I wanted to be able to feed my kids, but also still afford more than $10 a month for toiletries. I sat for two hours, explaining my business, my haphazard income and spending habits, feeling sick and a little ashamed. But eventually Stephanie began to smile.

"This is so exciting," she said. "You are making twice as much as you did three years ago, and next year, you’ll be making four times as much! You got this!" She was impressed by the fact I’d sold and written an original audiobook, while also freelancing, working full-time for the newspaper, and taking care of two kids. It was a lot of work that I was suddenly able to do because with 50/50 custody after the divorce, I was no longer the primary caretaker of our children. And without a spouse, I was no longer performing the unpaid mental and emotional labor I’d been doing for years. Free from the mental load, I had a lot of time to earn money and it was beginning to pay off.

“Girl, you know how to work hard,” she said. She was the kind of blonde woman who called you “girlfriend” and said “you go, girl” unironically. The kind of woman I just loved with my whole heart because I knew she meant every word of it. She told me I had this. And I did.

When we were done, I was relieved and angry. Angry that for so long money had been a cudgel used against me. Angry that I’d been told everything I was doing was wrong. Angry that I’d looked to someone else for my stability, to provide for me, when I could have done it for myself all along. And I was angry that I was made to believe my labor wasn’t enough—when the reality was it just wasn’t valued.

In my relationship, money had been a trap, but when I had the support and the equality I needed, I finally could earn enough that money became my freedom.

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How to get away with AI-generated essays

Prof Paul Kleiman on putting ChatGPT to the test on his work. Plus letters from Michael Bulley and Dr Paul Flewers

No wonder Robert Topinka found himself in a quandary ( The software says my student cheated using AI. They say they’re innocent. Who do I believe?, 13 February ). To test ChatGPT’s abilities and weaknesses, I asked it to write a short essay on a particular topic that I specialised in. Before looking at what it produced, I wrote my own 100% original short essay on the same topic. I then submitted both pieces to ChatGPT and asked it to identify whether they were written by AI or a human. It immediately identified the first piece as AI-generated. But then it also said that my essay “was probably generated by AI”.

I concluded that if you write well, in logical, appropriate and grammatically correct English, then the chances are that it will be deemed to be AI-generated. To avoid detection, write badly. Prof Paul Kleiman Truro, Cornwall

Robert Topinka gets into a twist about whether his student’s essay was genuine or produced by AI. The obvious solution is for such work not to contribute to the final degree qualification. Then there would be no point in cheating.

Let there be real chat between teachers and students rather than ChatGPT , and let the degree be decided only by exams, with surprise questions, done in an exam room with pen and paper, and not a computer in sight. Michael Bulley Chalon-sur-Saône, France

Dr Robert Topinka overlooks a crucial factor with respect to student cheating – so long as a degree is a requirement to obtain a reasonable job, then chicanery is inevitable. When I left school at 16 in the early 1970s, an administrative job could be had with a few O-levels; when I finished my PhD two decades ago and was looking for that sort of job, each one required A-levels, and often a degree. I was a mature student, studying for my own edification, and so cheating was self-defeating. Cheating will stop being a major problem only when students attend university primarily to learn for the sake of learning and not as a means of gaining employment. Dr Paul Flewers London

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Guest Essay

I’m the Mayor of Dearborn, Mich., and My City Feels Betrayed

A woman points and shouts into a megaphone. Other people hold Palestinian flags and signs that read “Abandon Biden.”

By Abdullah H. Hammoud

Mr. Hammoud is the mayor of Dearborn, Mich., and a Democrat.

“Dearborn doesn’t sleep,” I recently told an out-of-state visitor to my hometown.

It was a reference to the celebratory time of Ramadan, when our city breaks bread together for iftar at sunset and suhoor, before sunrise, each day. For a month, Dearborn is bustling around the clock: Business districts buzz during the day, and residents and visitors flock to break the fast together every night, gathering over hot, heaping plates filled with some of the best food in the country, surrounded by neighbors of all backgrounds.

I have always spoken these words with warmth and pride for my community, but after 130 days of genocide in Gaza, the phrase has taken on new meaning.

Dearborn does not sleep. We have not slept. Our entire city is haunted by the images, videos and stories streaming out of Gaza. Life seems heavily veiled in a haze of shared grief, fear, helplessness and even guilt as we try to understand how our tax dollars could be used by those we elected to slaughter our relatives overseas.

We don’t have to imagine the violence and injustice being carried out against the Palestinian people. Many of us lived it, and still bear the scars of life under occupation and apartheid.

Since the Nakba of 1948, many Palestinians have been forcibly displaced by the state of Israel. My neighbors still have the documents they had to carry between Israeli military checkpoints, to prove they could walk the streets of their own ancestral villages. My aunts, uncles and elders recall life under Israeli occupation and wrestling with the decision to flee the only home they ever knew. I have seen grief gut a constituent whose family pulled both his grandmothers from the rubble of their shared apartment building after it was leveled by Israeli missiles. Even before the horrific events of Oct. 7, last year was the deadliest year in nearly two decades for Palestinians in the West Bank.

Now, friends pray for the safe return of family members still in the West Bank. A shop owner from Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem that has come under threat from radical Zionist settlers, wonders what will happen to Al Aqsa Mosque. His family has cared for it for generations.

At a Dearborn City Council meeting in November, a resident testified that his family has buried at least 80 relatives in Gaza since Israel began its bombing campaign in October. Eighty relatives. Eighty innocent lives.

What compounds the constant fear and mourning is a visceral sense of betrayal. In the past three federal elections, Arab American voters in Michigan have become a crucial and dependable voting bloc for the Democratic Party, and we were part of the wave that delivered for Joe Biden four years ago. But this fact seems long forgotten by our candidate as he calls for our votes once more while at the same time selling the very bombs that Benjamin Netanyahu’s military is dropping on our family and friends.

Until just a few months ago, I firmly believed that Joe Biden was one of the most consequential and transformative presidents that our nation had seen since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His administration managed to put in place groundbreaking domestic policies in the last three years that his predecessors couldn’t manage even in two terms. But no amount of landmark legislation can outweigh the more than 100,000 people killed, wounded or missing in Gaza. The scales of justice will not allow it.

President Biden is proving many of our worst fears about our government true: that regardless of how loud your voice may be, how many calls to government officials you may make, how many peaceful protests you organize and attend, nothing will change.

My greatest fear is that Mr. Biden will not be remembered as the president who saved American democracy in 2020 but rather as the president who sacrificed it for Benjamin Netanyahu in 2024.

Dearborn is not alone in calling for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza. A poll conducted last fall found that 66 percent of Americans and a whopping 80 percent of Democrats want a cease-fire. However, the president and our elected representatives in Congress seem content to ignore the will of the American people.

This betrayal feels uniquely un- American. When conflict shoved them out of their homes, many of Dearborn’s parents fled to Michigan in pursuit of the American dream and the promise that their voices would be heard and valued. Today, we instill in our children the American aspiration of standing on the side of justice for all people, everywhere.

Two years ago, when Americans across the country rallied to offer support and aid to Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, so did we. There are still blue and yellow flags fading against the facades of homes and businesses across my city. But when Dearborn residents flew the Palestinian flag this past fall, they were met with threats .

Too often, it feels as if our president and members of Congress have turned their backs on us. In many ways, the Democratic Party has turned its back on us, too.

This month, I agreed to meet with senior policy officials from the Biden administration on the condition that they be open to withdrawing their support for the right-wing Israeli government now bombarding Gaza. A delegation visited me in Dearborn on Feb. 8, fully aware of these terms.

I firmly believe that there is always time to do the right thing. But as I imparted to the officials I met with, words are not enough. The only way to ensure the safe return of all hostages and prisoners is through an immediate cease-fire. The only way to ensure that unrestricted humanitarian aid enters Gaza is through an immediate cease-fire. The only way to establish a just and legitimate Palestinian state is through an immediate cease-fire.

With every day that passes, every minute that the president fails to do the right thing, the belief that I and so many others have invested in him dwindles. With every American-made bomb that Israel’s right-wing government drops on Gaza, a stark numbness coats everything, restricting any space for belief to grow.

Four days after our meeting in Dearborn, the United States government watched as Israel, which had corralled innocent Palestinian civilians into Rafah, one of the last safe havens in Gaza, besieged the city overnight, killing dozens in what experts believe could amount to an egregious war crime.

I, like many of my fellow Americans, cannot in good conscience support the continuation of a genocide. This has weighed heavy on my heart, particularly as the presidential primary election in Michigan has drawn near.

It is for that reason that I will be checking the box for “uncommitted” on my presidential primary ballot next Tuesday. In doing so, I am choosing hope.

The hope that Mr. Biden will listen. The hope that he and those in Democratic leadership will choose the salvation of our democracy over aiding and abetting Mr. Netanyahu’s war crimes. The hope that our families in Gaza will have food in their bellies, clean water to drink, access to health care and the internet and above all else, a just state in which they have the right to determine their own future.

The hope that, one day soon, Dearborn will be able to sleep again.

In my sleepless nights, I have often questioned what kind of America my daughters will grow up in: one that makes excuses for the killing of innocent men, women and children or one that chooses to reclaim hope. What still lies between betrayal and hope is the power of accountability. It is my prayer — as a father, the son of immigrants and as a public servant in the greatest city in the greatest nation in the world — that my fellow Michiganders will harness this power and lend their voice to this hope by holding the president accountable.

Abdullah H. Hammoud ( @AHammoudMI ) became the mayor of Dearborn, Mich., in 2021.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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COMMENTS

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  24. In Marriage Money Was a Trap. After Divorce It Was My Freedom

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