Nov 30 2011

Web Wednesday: The Marriage Plot

Published by at 3:03 pm under Eng170W

Madeleine had been trying to beat Alton [in tennis] her entire life without success. This was even more infuriating because she was better than he was, at this point. But whenever she took a set from Alton he started intimidating her, acting mean, disputing calls, and her game fell apart. Madeleine was worried that there was something paradigmatic in this, that she was destined to go through life being cowed by less capable men. As a result, Madeleine’s tennis matches against Alton had assumed such outsize personal significance for her that she got tight whenever she played him, with predictable results. (10)

In a new critics interpretation of how Eugenides’s word choice develops the theme of mania, Madeleine has always been fighting with the oppressive state of men that are lower than her standards. There is a state of mania in her because she freezes and mentally collapses upon dealing with someone who criticizes her and unfairly judges her for her lack through means of bullying. This causes Madeleine to feel as if she is unfit even though she knows otherwise, and by her reaction to those means of bullying, Madeleine begins to resent herself for it. A person who resents themselves cannot feel the same as a person who is confident in their abilities; they begin to second guess themselves and fall further into an obsessive manic behavior where they must prove to others they are the best. It becomes a cycle that she will have the hardest time trying to overcome, assuming that she can ever overcome this.

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