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Comparing Burgess and Draper's Theory of Family Violence and the Film, The Burning Bed

Powerful Essays
Comparing Burgess and Draper's Theory of Family Violence and the Film, The Burning Bed

I. Introduction

Burgess and Draper argue coercive patterns of family interaction represent the principal causal pathway that connects ecological instability to violence within families. They maintain this raises the possibility that some of the common correlates of such violence are themselves reactions to sudden or chronic ecological instability. For example, alcoholism, depression, and anxiety may be responses to ecological stresses in the family, such as loss of employment, excessive financial debt, or divorce. Burgess and Draper suggest that violence towards one's mate or children may consequently be a direct result of ecological instability. They argue that certain individual traits (e.g. problem drinking), which have previously been assumed to precipitate violent behavior, may actually be the result of the same factors that lead to family violence itself.

The movie, The Burning Bed, is a made for TV movie centered on the issue of family violence. The main characters were Francine and Mickey Hughes, a battered wife and abusive husband. In the story, Francine struggled with Mickey's violence and intimidation for the better part of twenty years and finally ended up killing him in his sleep. It is a vivid and realistic movie about domestic violence and the way society viewed such violence in the not so distant past. By comparing the movie to Burgess and Draper's hypothesis, some agreements and some disagreements become apparent. Do Burgess and Draper adequately explain and predict the Hughes's pattern of domestic violence?

II. Ecological Instability

Ecological instability describes when a...

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... beaten and afterwards when she was scarred and bruised, I feel that Mickey Hughes deserved what he got only he should have suffered more. The compassion I feel towards any woman who is victimized by a man probably makes me biased in that way. After reading Burgess and Draper's article, I feel even more justified in my position. They make the reader look for the cause of the abuse somewhere other than with the woman or the man's drinking. The way Burgess and Draper's article mirrors the abusive relationship in the Hughes family helps to put the violence in the right perspective where an adult can still be held responsible for his own actions.

Works Cited:

Burning Bed, The (1984) (TV). Directed by Robert Greenwald. Writing credits: Rose Lieman Goldemberg.

Ohlin, Lloyd and Michael Tonry, eds. Family Violence. University of Chicago Press, 1989.
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