Tag Archives: Marriage

Shakespeare for a Midsummer Wedding

A couple of years ago a former student opted for a “Midsummer Night’s Dream”-themed wedding. For many reasons, it was a perfect choice.

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Resolving Shakespeare’s Shrew Problem

“The Taming of the Shrew” is one of Shakespeare’s problem plays because it seems to endorse Kate signing on to a male domination fantasy. Modern productions such as the Synetic Theater’s non-verbal version have to make adjustments to satisfy modern audiences.

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Donne Can Help with a Separation

Today is my 43rd wedding anniversary and, although Julia and I plan to be together for many more years, we will live apart next year. John Donne’s “Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” may help us out.

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Trollope and Patriarchal Marriage

My portraying traditional Victorian marriages, Anthony Trollope exposes the pathologies that came with them.

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Pound’s Description of a Long Marriage

With every passing year of my marriage, which hits 42 years today, my appreciation for Ezra Pound’s “River-Merchant’s Wife” grows.

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A Song of Love for Julia

My wife’s beautiful name becomes synonymous with longing in both a Robert Herrick and a John Lennon lyric.

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Bechdel Uses Lit to Understand Her Life

Alison’s Bechdel time and again turns to literature in her memoir to understand her upbringing.

Posted in Bechdel (Alison), Fitzgerald (F. Scott), James (Henry), Shakespeare (William), Stevens (Wallace) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Tiny Rituals that Make a Marriage

Alice McDermott in “Someone” captures the small rituals and routines that make up a marriage.

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Austen on Bad Reasons for Getting Married

In “Pride and Prejudice” Jane Austen systematically explores bad reasons for getting married.

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Ask Jane: Advice for Lovers

“Pride and Prejudice” functions as a perceptive guide in how to develop a soul relationship.

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The Bard as Couples Counselor

Shakespeare charts the way to new kinds of relationships in his cross-dressing comedies.

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Lit’s 10 Most Painful Marriage Proposals

Literature 10 most painful marriage proposals.

Posted in Alcott (Louisa May), Austen (Jane), Bronte (Charlotte), Chaucer (Geoffrey), Defoe (Daniel), Gay (John), Hardy (Thomas), Tolstoy (Leo), Wilde (Oscar) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sex and the Single Pretty Woman

“Pretty Woman” captures the ideas and the spirit of Helen Gurley Brown, who died Monday.

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Yeats and a Prayer for My Granddaughter

Yeats’s “Prayer for My Daughter” has questionable sexual politics but points to deep truths.

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Jane Austen & My Son’s Secret Wedding

A secret marriage entered into by my son Toby could have been taken straight out of Jane Austen’s “Emma.”

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The Black Honey of Summer

My son’s marriage proposal to his Trinidadian girlfriend has become bound up in my mind with a Mary Oliver poem about blackberries.

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Poetry to Read at a Hippy Wedding

Today is my wedding anniversary so you get to hear how I wove poetry into the ceremony. W. B. Yeats, Archibald MacLeish, D.H. Lawrence, and the Song of Solomon all made appearances. Get ready for time travel back to a very different era.

Posted in Bible, Lawrence (D. H.), MacLeish (Archibald), Yeats (William Butler) | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

This Is the Golden Morning of Love

A wedding poem seems appropriate for June. Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s lovely “Marriage Morning” draws me, maybe because it captures some of the anxieties of the wedding day and not just the joys.

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The Bard’s Defense of Midsummer Marriage

Teaching a course in British Fantasy has given me a new perspective on Midsummer Night’s Dream, our first work. The course could be called (borrowing from Bruno Bettelheim) “the uses of enchantment” because our focus is on how and why people turn to fantasy. In our class discussion, we decided that Shakespeare uses his green […]

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How to Film Austen Heroines Saying Yes

Amanda Root as Anne Elliott  Film Friday One must show a great deal of sensitivity in how one films a Jane Austen heroine accepting a marriage proposal. That’s because the author never shows us the acceptances directly. Although I am generally not a great fan of filmed versions of Jane Austen novels, I have to […]

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Gripped by a Tyrannical Love

Since I am vacationing in Maine and spent time yesterday with my favorite cousin, who is a huge Edward Arlington Robinson fan, I devote a post to the state’s greatest poet.  Whenever I visit Dan Bates in Gardiner, we have to visit Robinson’s grave and look at his house. My favorite Robinson poem is “Eros […]

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Blaming Loved Ones in the Face of Death

Edvard Munch, The Sick Child  Imagine the following situation. A couple has been married for decades but now he has contracted a terminal illness and is dying. His wife has always prided herself on being there for him when he needed her, but now she feels helpless. Meanwhile he is scared and angry and is […]

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Managing Midsummer Madness (i.e., Sex)

Midsummer Night’s Dream provides good instruction for the parents of teenagers. First of all, don’t think that you can tyrannically dictate your children’s choices (say, by threatening them with execution). On the other hand, they need guidelines and guidance. There’s no telling how they’ll behave once they are set loose in the forest of their […]

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June Weddings, Elizabethan Style

Francois Boucher, mid 18th-century  As June is the month for weddings (Julia and I were married June 8), I will be looking at a wedding poem and a wedding play this week: Edmund Spenser’s gorgeous Epithalamion and Shakespeare’s magical Midsummer Night’s Dream. Writing about his own upcoming wedding, Spenser is so exuberant that he could […]

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After 37 Years, Still 2 Lights above the Sea

You will not be surprised to hear that poetry played a big role in my wedding 37 years ago, on June 8, 1973. The outdoor wedding occurred shortly after Carleton’s Commencement ceremony (our good friends John Colman and Anne Smith got married shortly before).  Three days earlier, after an intense week finishing up my final essays, […]

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Sadness over Little Women, 12th Night

Although reading and grading student essays is the most demanding aspect of my job—I graded around 535 formal and informal essays this past semester, as well as reading another 100 essay proposals and early drafts—it can also be the most rewarding.  That’s because I will regularly see students working through major life issues at the […]

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Austen’s Good Enough Match

First of all, a happy birthday to Jane Austen (thanks to my mother for pointing this out).  Jane would have been 234 today. My students have been bothered by the Marianne-Brandon marriage that concludes Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, and I’m inclined to agree with them.  Kat Vander Wende reasonably pointed out that the sought-after […]

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True Love and a Steady Income

Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson as Edward, Elinor I’ve been reading essays on Sense and Sensibility and thinking of all the useful lessons it teaches, including about the influence of money on people’s dating decisions.  One of my students focused on the figure of Lucy Steele, whom she compared to a woman in the reality […]

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Jane Austen’s Subtle Stiletto

I’m teaching Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility at the moment and, once again, recalling what a masterpiece it is.  The interactions between the sisters never fail to elicit sibling stories from my students.  Some of us see ourselves as the elder sister Elinor, others as the younger sister Marianne.  As the oldest in my family, […]

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Rediscovering Wild Strawberries

My daughter-in-law’s recent blog post on children, discussed yesterday, has taken me back to a time when I myself wrestled with the question of whether we should bring children into an uncertain world.  A powerful work addressing this issue is Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries, a magnificent film that feels like literature. The film is about a day […]

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On the Logic of Having Babies

In a recent post on her website, my wonderful daughter-in-law reflects on whether she and Darien will have children.  The reflection was occasioned by our Iowa Thanksgiving where she saw all of her husband’s cousins having children (and I mean all, the only exceptions being those who are in college or younger).  So Betsy compiles […]

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

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