Being universally accepted for already several centuries, being admitted by various religions, cultures and congregations, marriage, in general, still preserves its dubious character, the essence of which is investigated by scholars of different fields of study.
Thus, the philosophical thought brings us to the idea that marriage is the phenomenon popping up the best in the person`s soul: love, desire to assist, respect, treating to others as one wants to be treated by himself. The philosophers claimed that marriage is to be a reasonable combination of physical and metaphysical spheres. It means that two creatures getting into the matrimony are to have compatibility based on not only physical features but also on affectionate, emotional side: «Marriage based on mutual affection and on intelligence is the greatest blessing of the person`s life» (Socrates).
From the sociological point of view, marriage is interpreted an institution universally treated as the union of two people of different sexes, one of the priorities of which is in socializing the person, of keeping the latter in the environs that will make the confines of his/her psychological and physical life snug and comfortable. This is the groundbreaking thing for the status of this union, for deciphering whether it is successful or full of acrimonious recriminations.
This topic has also entered the minds of a lot of outstanding writers, whose ideas concerning the concept of marriage have been reflected in the myriads of works of literature. No doubt they do show the subjective authors` view point on the notion ofmarriage, as gender, age, social influences the writers themselves undergo can hardly be separated in full, but still fictional discourse presents us the most intricately interpreted concept of marriage.
On the semantic layer this concept is associated with a building being at the same time a metaphorical paragon of true friendship, of the institutionalized companionship: «We had also learned that marriage is an estate that is very much easier to enter than it is to exit. Unfenced by law, the unmarried lover can quit a bad relationship at any time. But you – the legally married person who wants to escape doomed love – may soon discover that a significant portion of your marriage contract belongs to the State, and that it sometimes takes a very long while for the State to grant you your leave» [2, p. 5]. This drives us to the idea of the matrimony being equal something hard, stable, profound and the same time inspiring, solid and difficult to be moved or shaken. For example: «We often say that marriage is "hard work". Life is hard work, of course, and work is very hard work - I'm quite certain they would agree with those statements - but how does marriage become hard work? Here's how: Marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life's expectations for happiness into the hands of one mere person. Keeping that going is hard work» [2, p. 48-49].So, the discussed concept is treated as something everlasting due to its resistance to problems and strength qualities.
In the fictional modern discourse created by women authors (K. Swan, E. Gilbert, C. Alliott, C. Ahern) this concept is basically realized through such lexical units as matrimony, bond, companionship with marriage ranging first in frequency among them. Moreover, the “fictional” spouses prove to show great differences in their treating the notion of marriage and do differ in the importance of some personal qualities they attribute to each other. The analysis showed that the female protagonists treat the concept «marriage» through the perspective of their partner’s being the best friend, the most intimate and respected confidant and even an emotional advisor [2, p. 32; 1, p. 25-27]. Men, in their turn, associate their wives with coziness and hearth: «A recent survey of young American women found that what women are seeking these days in a husband – more than anything else – is a man who will "inspire" them, which is, by any measure, a tall order. As a point of comparison, young women of the same age, surveyed back in the 1920s, were more likely to choose a partner based on qualities such as "decency, " or "honesty, " or his ability to provide for a family. But that's not enough anymore. Now we want to be inspired by our spouses! Daily! Step to it, honey!»[2, p. 48-49]. This concept having not only the gender but also the culturally determined characteristics incorporates in itself the idea of social security for western women and the emotional and spiritual one for the females from Eastern cultures: «Believe me, modern Western marriage has much to recommend it over traditional Hmong marriage (starting with its kidnapping-free spirit), and I will say it again: I would not trade lives with those women. They will never know my range of freedom; they will never have my education; they will never have my health and prosperity; they will never be allowed to explore so many aspects of their own natures. But there is one critical gift that a traditional Hmong bride almost always receives on her wedding day which all too often eludes the modern Western bride, and that is the gift of certainty. When you have only one path set before you, you can generally feel confident that it was the correct path to have taken. And a bride whose expectations for happiness are kept necessarily low to begin with is more protected, perhaps, from the risk of devastating disappointments down the road» [2, p. 47]. But both for males and females the marriage turns out to the union within which the cardinal rule is to comfort the partner emotionally, and if thoroughly followed this rule becomes a guarantee for each of the spouses’ metaphysical world of not being encroached on and for the person’s being emotionally intact: «We would each be bringing to this marriage our existing individual worlds – worlds that contained careers, businesses, assets, his children, my royalties, the gemstones he had been carefully collecting for years, the retirement accounts that I had been building ever since I was a twenty-year-old diner waitress … and all these things ofvalue needed to be considered, weighed, discussed [2, p. 115]. Once transgressed, this rule can cause emotional calamities and insecurities into the wedlock that would be more equal the trough of despair then life full of scrumptious things.
It is noteworthy that with all the decades the concept ‘marriage’ has been rooting itself in the minds of the people of different ages, nationalities, cultures and even of various qualities – real people and fictional protagonists of the literary discourses – there is still much riveting in the essence of it to be described. At present we as readers witness such an approach to the ‘marriage’ interpretation according to which the spiels and insouciance are unacceptable, it provokes the active and insistence nature in the people described.
1. Alliott, C. A Married Man / C. Alliott. – London: Headline Book Publishing, 2002. – 567 pp.
2. Gilbert, E. Committed. A Love Story / E. Gilbert. – London: Bloomsbury, 2011. – 297 pp.