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Infidelity In Literature Essay

1108 words - 4 pages

Why is adultery so frightening yet so fascinating? In part, its because we recognize the appeal of it. We grew up in triangles, competing for our mother's attention with our fathers and our siblings, and vice versa. That taught us, deep inside, to be terrified of abandonment and to resent sharing. We never quite give up on the childish fantasy that somehow, someday, we'll find someone all our own who wants only us. This destructive fantasy keeps us looking for love in all the wrong places.Adultery is about character or the lack of character. It stems from a lifetime of uncertainty, and insecurity. It is a symptom, which does not simply arise from a physical need but a combination of physical and emotional void. Despite our familiarity with adultery, we still do not understand it. It's time we stopped alternatively ignoring, excusing, and condemning this epidemic. To deal with a problem you have to comprehend it first. What better way to comprehend this phenomenon than to look at great works of literature. Two such pieces that deal with adultery are "The Country Husband," by John Cheever and Guy Maupassant's "The Jewelry". These stories focus on infidelity from two views, that of the participant as in the case of "The country Husband." And the other from the perspective of a man betrayed by the women that he "loved."In "The Country Husband," Cheever describes his character in depth and gradually reveals Francis Weed's weakness. He is a war veteran who is entrapped by the social constraints of the life he has chosen to lead, and the story centers around the events following a plane crash he lived through. This appears to emotionally shake something loose for him and drives him to a deep self-searching. He returns to his family after the accident to find a "battlefield" (Norton 32) On his return to his family he is utterly shocked when he realized what kind life as he had lived thus far: a life of bickering children and an Oscar worthy dramatic wife. He holds on to his sanity by holding on to such things that bring him escape from his meaningless and mundane life. His subsequent emotional withdrawal from his family begins to surface by his escape to the private moments he spends in the "pleasant garden, with walks, and flowerbeds, and places to sit" (Norton 32). This gives us the insight that Francis is utterly disillusioned with his life.As we begin to sympathize with Francis Weed we are thrown for a surprise in the form of a young babysitter named Anne Murchison. At first sight of the babysitter we begin to see a transformation is Francis's character. He is re awakened through his uncontrollable urge to have sex with her. His primal instincts and his natural drive for self-satisfaction are thrust forward. The uneventful, calm, poised and even virtuous character of Francis Weed seems to be outside its norms. He becomes belligerent towards his wife. He even insults Mrs. Wrightson the Gentry of the town. Francis's character begins to take shape. He...

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