December 17th, 2011

Mania in the Marriage Plot

Posted by sasha in Uncategorized

This is the Writing Part from Web Wednesday 11/30

The Hannas’ house was a hundred-year-old Tudor. . . . Inside, everything was tasteful and half falling apart. The Oriental carpets had stains. The brick-red kitchen linoleum was thirty years old. When Mitchell used the powder room, he saw that the toilet paper dispenser had been repaired with Scotch tape. So had the peeling wallpaper in the hallway. (74)

New Critics look for the meaning of a literary work by looking solely at the literary work. They look at the text’s structure, and they try to find, “tensions and conflicts” in the writing that resolve into the meaning of the piece. In this selection from, “The Marriage Plot,” we can see the theme of, “mania” through the conflicts found in it. The house is old and sturdy, however, it’s falling apart on the inside. It denotes mania through the use of words that demonstrate something falling apart from the inside-out. Eugenides’s word choice is key to the development of the theme. The Hannas live in a house that only a wealthy family could afford, but it is slowly deteriorating. Small details are coming apart, and are held together flimsily, either by Scotch tape, or its not fixed at all. Like the manic Leonard, Madeleine couldn’t tell he was falling apart from the inside out, since he seemed so strong and sturdy from the outside. This passage reflects Madeleine’s perception of Leonard. It’s just reversed, as Leonard’s perception of Madeleine’s house. The mania stays the same. It’s like looking into a literary mirror…

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