The Relationship Between Divorce And Love In American Literature

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Today, divorce has become a common cultural and historical concern and “an American way of life” (Whitehead). This essay studies the relationship between divorce and love as presented in numerous realist literary works from the turn of the century, including A Modern Instance by William Dean Howells, Marry Me: A Romance by John Updike, and The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton. Closely reviewing these novels, I examine love as well as divorce, which saw a remarkable increase between the years 1880 and 1920. Moving the topic of divorce to the forefront illuminates love in real life and helps us understand the ways in which these realists were actively participating in and engaging with the issues of society during their era, rather than exposing life as they saw it. In each of these novels, this old-fashioned subject of love or romance is presented with a sort of sympathetic disdain, creating a tension in these texts rendered thematically by the disruptive subject of divorce and informed by contradictory beautiful and social priorities that shape an analysis of the present and the past on which it depends. A closer glimpse at divorce in American literature is captivating because love has played a central role in the history of literature as a whole. It has been demonstrated that love has served as a complex conceptual formal function in the development of literature through each era. Love and marriage have been pivotal to the plot and shape of literary works, serving as
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