Jeffrey Eugenides has a new novel coming out in a about a week that I'm really excited to get my hands on called The Marriage Plot. Since the book hasn't actually come out yet, I'm writing this based on all the reviews I've read but there was one particular review by the Wall Street Journal that really got me thinking. The title of the review was a question that was so interesting and so good that I just had to replicate it as this blog title: Did Gender Equality Kill the Love Story?
The Marriage Plot is about Madeleine, young woman at Brown who is writing about how gender equality has taken away the most important and common plot device in literature. Ironically, Madeleine is herself in a love triangle between two men: a brilliant but depressed biology major and a longtime friend. While I cannot speak to how the book is though from all the reviews I have read, it seems to be a great read, the question of gender equality killing the love story really fascinates me.
When I think of all the books or stories that involve love, marriage, or relationships (which is probably a good portion of books ever written), the status of the female character is very defined and a bulk of the story is often about who the characters are going to end up with. Take the classic chick lits like Jane Austen novels, most of her heroines are trying to marry up or marry someone they didn't think they could marry. A high school English teacher once told me that if I ever wanted to learn about why people got married, I had to read Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Jane Austen and Anna Karenina are both mentioned in the review and interview. On the flip side, when I think of the novels I have read that do not involve the marriage plot, I can see that the idea of gender equality or feminism gets mentioned or played around with, Middlesex is perhaps a good example. And at Colgate, we all read Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway.
Perhaps an extension of the question of gender equality killing the love story is why is gender difference integral to a love story? And that brings me to an idea of everyday relationships, is it more difficult for stronger women or feminist women to have relationships?
To read the full book review and interview with Jeffrey Eugenides: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2011/09/30/did-gender-equality-kill-the-love-story/?mod=google_news_blog
by Catherine Yeh