Mitford: The Curtain is Pulled.

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                                                                Steve Radabaugh

                                                                ENGL 106.12

                                                                Essay #1

                                                                17 Feb 2003

Mitford:  The Curtain is Pulled

        How would you like to be put on a cold metal tray and have your body invaded taking out your blood and filling you with fluids to preserve your organs, all while your family has no idea about it?  This is the issue Jessica Mitford brings to the table in “Behind The Formaldehyde Curtain.”  She raises questions about the legality of embalming, and ends up going into gory detail expressing exactly what goes on in the back room of funeral parlors nationwide.  She talks about how the family of the deceased does not know that they are being embalmed, how to make a body look life-like, and what goes on at the burial site.  Jessica Mitford writes an excellent article and it is reinforced by her graphic words explaining the issue, and the information she has presented.  However, there are some flaws in her article, including her tendency to over elaborate, her lack of credible sources, and her one sided view on embalming.  

        In the essay, Mitford uses excellent words to explain the process of embalming.  She is using words that help in her explanation of embalming, and they are so graphic, whether you want to or not, you can picture what is going on in the room.  Using words like “sprayed, sliced, pierced, pickled, trussed, trimmed, creamed, waxed, painted, rouged, and neatly dressed” practically lays the whole process out for you in a step by step order (181).  You start out by spraying the body, and in the middle are cleaned and have make up applied, and then they end up nicely dressed, ready for their debut.  Another way she uses words to explain the process is by naming some tools needed for the process.  She talks about a “dermasurgeon” and the equipment he uses, “scalpels, scissors, augers, forceps, clamps, needles, pumps, tubes, bowls, and basins” (182).  These words were great for her to use so we know that embalming is like surgery, they use the same tools.  Although these words are used, she does not tell us what they mean.  Not everyone knows what augers, clamps, or basins are.  Mitford should explain into what these words mean, and what each tool is used for.  

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        Another reason Mitford has an excellent article is that the information provided is great, and as far as we know it is very accurate.  The fact that she goes into the process using details supports the notion that she knows what she is talking about.  She tells us words and then tells us what they mean, which shows us that she has some knowledge on the topic.  “The next step is to have at Mr. Jones with a thing called a trocar.  This is a long, hollow needle attached to a tube” (183).  By explaining what she has previously talked ...

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