With divorce rates of today being at an all time high, people say that marriage has lost its value. It is also said that it is rare to find a happy relationship. Edgar Lee Masters seemed to believe the same about the romantic relationships of his time, as well. Masters conveys theses feelings through some of the characters of his work, Spoon River Anthology. Edgar Lee Masters uses unhappy marriages as a common factor in the deaths of many of the characters including Margaret Fuller Slack, Amanda Barker and Tom Merritt in order to reveal his own discontent toward romantic relationships.
First, Margaret Fuller Slack’s loveless relationship with her husband is a main factor in her death. In the poem, Margaret Fuller Slack, Slack speaks about her wish to write. She then tells of how she must choose her future and that she was lured into marriage under the pretense of writing her first novel. Unfortunately, things did not work out as she planned. Masters wrote, “Luring me with the promise of leisure for my novel, / And I married him, giving birth to eight children, / And had no time to write.” Because of her marriage to John Slack, she was forced to give up her dreams of writing. Her husband led her to believe that she could write at leisure, but, once she was married and had children, she was not able to write. Not only was her marriage the cause of her unhappiness, it was the cause of her death. Masters wrote, “It was all over with me, anyway, / when I ran the needle in my hand/while washing the baby’s things, /And died from lock-jaw, an ironical death.” It is ironic because if she had not been married and had become a writer, her life would not have ended this way. It is also ironic because what she really wanted was ...
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...te, “What could I say to people who thought /That a woman of thirty-five was at fault /When her lover of nineteen killed her husband.” Here, Masters tells not only the plot, but also gives the reader Mrs. Merritt’s point of view of the events. In this story, Masters uses a dysfunctional marriage as the cause of a man’s death, once again displaying his true feelings about romantic relationships and marriage. By constantly using unhappy marriages as the causes of his character’s deaths, Masters conveys his own discontent toward romantic relationships and marriage.
Through his use of unhappy marriages as major factors in the deaths of the characters, Margaret Fuller Slack, Amanda Barker and Tom Merritt, Edgar Lee Masters displays his true feelings of discontent toward romantic relationships. He had a pessimistic view on love and seemed to have no faith in marriage.
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