Type: Analysis
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The Main Idea of the Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain Written by Jessica Mitford

Introductory statements: Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain is an essay that was written by Jessica Mitford. The main idea of the author is the subject to the practices of embalming, secrets surrounding these practices as well as a description of the procedures followed during the embalming process. This paper seeks to discuss as well as analyze Mitford’s essay, by taking into account the writer’s view over the issue and various ways that the author uses to illustrate her points. The writer’s point is clear from the beginning of the essay whereby she is discussing the subject of embalming in American society. The essay criticizes the professionalism of modern mortuary.

Thesis: The thesis statement for this essay will be “embalming process amounts to disrespecting the deceased”.

Summary of Main Ideas. The author of the essay is opposed to what is done to the human body after death. She argues most of the traditional funeral practices in modern American society are not worthy as they amount to disrespecting the deceased instead of bringing respect to them. This paper will seek to analyze the secrets behind the process of embalming as revealed to us by Mitford in her essay. As Mayer notes in his book Embalming: History, theory & practice, all cultures around the world the funeral services are a sign of paying respect for the deceased; however, this has turned out to be different in modern societies (Mayer, 2010). Many of those involved in the embalming process is after making a profit from their activities as revealed to us by Mitford.

The essay by Mitford mainly focuses on the practice of embalming as it is carried out in American society.

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Claim: The author harshly and confidently communicates her opposition to the entire process that the human body goes through after death.

Evidence: She goes a step further and explains in detail the practice of embalming; she reveals the illogical behind the confidentiality of this process (Mitford, 1978). The author also carries out an analysis of the attitude of American society toward death as well as their funeral practices.

In the essay, the author attempts to sensitize the general public about the entire process of embalming. In addition, the author also tries to attract the readers’ attention on the popular practices of the American funeral industry as well as irrationality and absurdity of these practices, with an aim of ensuring that people do not allow the embalming process as it is done at the moment (Mitford, 1978). The essay creates awareness of the drama behind the funeral business.

The author positions herself in this essay as a specialist in matters pertaining to death. She uses her knowledge to analyze the attitude people have toward death and she criticizes what she views as nonsense about the entire process of embalming. She criticizes the whole process untypically, in shocking sobriety but with scientific rationalism (Mitford, 1978).

Significance: She uses an ironical language to communicate her discontent with what is done to the human body after death. She is opposed to those who view human death as a process of routine responsibilities.

Claim: The author in her essay constantly questions the legality of the entire process of embalming.

Evidence: In her essay, the author refers to the various acceptable legal practices that provide guidelines on what should be done on a body after death. She gives instances where the signature of the next of kin is obtained before cremation is carried out or before the body of the deceased is given to a research school for the purpose of carrying out medical research (Mayer, 2010). The author argues that the law does not support the process of embalming since permission is not sought from either next of kin or the deceased before death. This makes her question the legality of the whole process of embalming.

Significance: Mitford reveals to us secrets that surround the entire embalming process. She is of the view that if people are aware of what happens behind the curtains they will be totally opposed to the process, thereby reducing the income received from the funeral industry. She questions why family members of the deceased are discouraged from witnessing the entire embalming process. The author argues that procedures that are carried out to the human body after death amount to disrespect and people should be opposed to the process and come up with better ways of paying respect to the deceased in the American society (Mitford, 1978).

Claim: According to Falcony, if the practice of embalming results in disrespecting the deceased, there is a need for people to oppose the entire process (Falcony, 1999).

Evidence: Mitford reveals to us that the process should be open if all that is done behind the curtains bring respect to the deceased. From the essay, it is clear that the entire process of embalming is a money-making process which is used by businesspersons to cash in money from those who want to conform to the traditional funeral ritual practices.

Significance: There is a need to change the attitude that people have toward death by saving their cash from greedy businesspersons who carry out the embalming process.

Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain Conclusion

Restatement of thesis: I totally agree with the position of the author that members of the public should oppose the embalming process. The procedures that are performed on the body behind the curtains amount to disrespect to the deceased.

Review of key points: The funeral process should be aimed at paying respect to the deceased but embalming does not leave to achieve this objective. The author’s position over the entire process of embalming and funeral services shows that people in American society need to change their attitude toward death in order to bring the much-needed sobriety in the entire process of paying respect to the deceased.

Concluding Statement: the entire process of embalming should be abolished.

Jessica Mitford Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain Analysis Essay Example

The article was first printed in 1967 in The American Way of Death. It is a compilation of articles, chiefly centered on mortuary career condemnation. Mitford’s focal point is relatively apparent from the very beginning. She assertively and ruthlessly expresses her conflict with the procedures carried out after the death of the human body. The writer analyzes the procedure of embalming in detail, submits to its irrational secrecy and, moreover, evaluates the American funeral application and outlook to death.

Mitford is trying to notify the universal public of how the practice of embalming is carried out, drawing consideration to the general procedures of the funeral business, their apparent illogicality, and absurdity. If people ultimately comprehended more to the barbaric event, taken behind the so-called formaldehyde curtain, they would not permit embalming so willingly. Mitford generates a dramatic representation of the funeral industry in the article. She goes into plentiful appalling details, to make an impression, or even upset the readers.

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Mitford shows herself as a professional in the field of death and dying. She examines the general behavior towards death and condemns the irrational and untypical, in some way dreadful abstinence and technical rationalism. Her language is classy, whereas her style of communication is intensely sardonic. She is not satirical about bereavement. On the other hand, she analyzes those, who turn it into a routine of everyday tasks.

The writer points out the secrecy that environs the procedure of embalming and probable confrontation, which may happen in case of discovering the truth by people. It would ultimately decrease the income to funeral businesses. Without any doubt, she asserts, family associates who might desire to observe the procedure would be put off by the so-called caring memorial service director. The author encourages us to deem the facts and in conclusion transform the mind-set to uncertain ceremony activities.

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