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The Woman Taken In Isolation Essay

1339 words - 6 pages

“The Woman Taken in Adultery” by Jean Thompson focuses on a mother of two girls and a wife who is dissatisfied with how her middle aged life is going. Her two daughters are in their prime, attracting boys and beginning to live their life the way she wishes she could; and her husband does not notice her as much anymore with their main conversations revolving around dinner and small talk. Her life lacks the intimacy a married woman should have; therefore, she ventures out of her monogamous relationship and is taken in adultery. Thompson does an exquisite job with changing up her plot in this short story; instead of focusing on adolescents and emerging adults, she decides focus on a middle aged ...view middle of the document...

Instead, a person reaches into themselves and become more self-absorbed than necessary which can be seen as neglecting their children.
This idea of parenthood versus self-absorption can be directly related to the principles taught by Erikson (1964) with identity versus confusion and intimacy versus isolation. Identity versus confusion can be brought into this story primarily because the story revolves around a mother who cannot determine whether or not her marriage is falling apart or not as well as trying to find other activities that cultivate her interests so she has something besides her deteriorating life to think about and to look forward to. The mother tries activities such as art history classes and enrichment classes at the local community college, and she just cannot find anything that appeal to her. She has essentially lost her sense of identity and cannot determine what she needs in life so she falls to the lost totem pole of being an adulterer. This alludes to Erikson’s intimacy versus isolation state where because a person is unable to determine their sense of self and create an identity of who they are, they cannot open up to someone and therefore cannot create any sense of intimacy. This can be seen in the mother’s attitude towards her husband that asking about dinner is one of the most important conversations in their relationship. Slater recognizes in his article that there is a close connection between identity, intimacy, and generativity in terms of the generative virtue of care. Essentially, identity is what type of person you care to be; intimacy is who you want to be with; and generativity is those you can take care of. Without the combination of those three things, one is living a confused, isolated, stagnated life who will not achieve the ultimate level of psychological development.
To emphasis the idea that the middle aged woman is currently in the state of isolation because of her deteriorating marriage, instead of having Erikson’s intimacy stage successfully completed, Thompson writes,
“Infidelity became my work of art. I wanted to make myself remarkable. Of course, vanity and spite and other unattractive motives were involved. But what if the sweet and reckless part of life was declared over for you? What if you lived in a house with people who never saw you, what if your skin was dusty from disuse? Wouldn’t you want to hang a gold frame around yourself?” (Thompson, pp. 220)
It is easy to see where the middle aged woman places herself in life in order to try to obtain the intimacy that she craves; being unfaithful. She not only sees being unfaithful as a personal act, but she recognizes it as a work of art; this allows us to assume she is trying to shed light on the idea of adultery to make it seem less shunning as it looks to the public eye. The woman is attempting to be seen as a different person,...

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