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A successful marriage can be defined as a union consisting of three values: happiness, trust, and sacrifice. These values are illustrated in The Great Gatsby and Their Eyes Were Watching God as they are exemplified by the relationships commented on by the authors. The vows said during the marriage process, mainly till death do you part, relate to these values as a promise between the people about to be wed. In order for the marriage to be successful and contain the values defining a successful union, there must be the presence of a connection between the two people, commonly referred to as love.
In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston incorporates three marriages into Janies life story. The actual process of marriage and the presence of a special union thereafter are not spoken of with the grandeur they should be associated with, usually only being referred to for a mere one or two sentences at a time in the book. So they were married there before sundown, just like Joe had said (Hurston 33). The only references alluding to a marriage in Hurstons book are subtle and do not call for much consideration. As these unions occur three times in the book, each specific marriage can be evaluated for the presence of love and the values of success.
Janies first marriage is to the man Logan Killicks. This marriage is an arranged marriage by her grandmother in order for Janie to have a supporting and stable household, as her grandmothers time to pass grows nearer. Janie marries this man with no feelings of love toward him, being told that a person would grow to love the one they are married to. Renee Hausman refers to this in the article Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Janie, reared by the myth of marriage as the only route of expression and satisfaction for a woman, wonders, Did marriage compel love like the sun the day? (p.21) and finds in the youth of her first marriage to Logan Killicks that certainly it does not (Hausman 62).
As the marriages progresses, Janie does not find this so-called love. Cause you told me Ah mus gointer love him, and, and Ah dont. Maybe if somebody was to tell me how, Ah could do it (Hurston 24). In this marriage, there is no presence of love or any of the values of a successful union between two people. There is no happiness there, and no trust between the two, and Janie and Logan would certainly never sacrifice for one another. This is why Janie elopes with Jody Starks when the opportunity arises.
Though the marriage to Jody lasts for most of Janies life, it most certainly is devoid of most aspects of a successful marriage. The hidden purpose of Jodys need to marry Janie is to climb in social rank. The presence of a wife in a mans life raises that mans social stature, the trust other people have in him, and the mans social acceptance, allowing him to become important in politics, as is true in Jodys case. The lack of trust in this union can be seen when Jody becomes mayor of the town and does not allow Janie to make a speech. He believes that women are to be seen, but not heard.
This trust is yet again forsaken in the instance that Janie insults Jodys old body and states that he looks like de change uh life when naked in front of the men on the porch of the store. Janie and Jody are also never happy with one another after a short amount of time had passed in their marriage. The point to the union between Janie and Jody was social gain, providing for a disastrous outcome in the end. This also gave way to the special relationship Janie had with Tea Cake after Jodys death.
The marriage between Janie and Tea Cake is the one marriage in the book that can be described as being successful. It contains the love needed and the values that were not present in the previous two marriages. The love is shown as they slowly start to date and have feelings toward each other. The trust is then built as one action after another happens causing it to form, such as Tea Cake taking Janies money and winning more by gambling with it. The happiness is exposed due to the fact that Janie is working in the the muck to be with Tea Cake when she could easily have stayed in Eatonville and run the store. Tea Cake also illustrates sacrifice as he risks his life to save Janie from the dog during the hurricane. This eventually brings upon the ultimate sacrifice, which is death. This marriage encompasses all the elements of a successful marriage, transforming it into a model marriage for determining success.
In F. Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby, only two marriages are presented that can be examined for successfulness, those of Tom Buchanan and George Wilson. Though the actual process of marriage has evidently occurred prior to the beginning of the story, these marriages can still be evaluated on the existence of the core values and the presence of love. Despite the fact that Fitzgerald does little to comment on the marriages, he still offers a different perspective than that of Hurston.
The marriage between Tom Buchanan and Daisy provides difficulty in forming an opinion as to whether it is successful or not. It appears as though the couple had once been in love, hence the marriage, but that love had faded, calling for the failure of the marriage. Also, though the partners venture towards other people and secret relationships, they ultimately end up together still married. Nevertheless, these separate relationships outside the marriage cause it to be considered unsuccessful. The aforementioned affairs cause for the values of trust and happiness to be found nonexistent in the relationship. The relations can be said to be the origin of the lack of trust, as one partner is clued into the unfaithfulness of the other. These affairs are also the basis as to whether the couple is content or not in the relationship. A marriage consisting of happiness would not also include an affair by one partner. On these grounds, the marriage between George Wilson and Myrtle can also be found to be a failure.
Due to the fact that Myrtle is one of the people involved in the Buchanans affairs, the value of trust and happiness are found to be wanting. This lack of trust is what drives Myrtle to be out in the road when Daisy and Gatsby strike her in Toms car as George had just accused her of being dishonest. There is a presence of sacrifice in this failed marriage, though, as George proceeds to hunt down Myrtles killer, eradicate him, and commit suicide. This action, however, does not call for a successful marriage. The love had also apparently disappeared from relationship, founding Myrtles unfaithfulness.
From the marriages provided by the authors, the noticeable trend is that the unions devoid of love and at least one of the essential elements of happiness, trust, and sacrifice most likely will end in failure. The one relationship that can be called a success, though not lasting for the longest amount of time, was the only bond that consisted of a connection of the two people by a strong feeling of love. The other relationships that seemed as though they had once felt a bond of love eventually lost that feeling, meaning that the love they felt for one another was false and pretentious. From these commentaries on marriage by the two authors, it can be drawn that Zora Neale Hurston has more of a feeling of hope towards one day finding the one person someone is meant to be with, their one true love.
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