The Marriage Plot | Skillshare Projects



The Marriage Plot

3/2/2014 - Illustration

Close up 1:

Close up 2:


12/8/13 - Sketches


Concept 1: Bookshelf

Concept 2: Typewriter Ribbon

Concept 3: Traditional Victorian Drop Cap Style (Symbolic)


11/24/13 - Initial Thoughts

Just finished reading my book, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. Don't have any sketches yet, but below is a summary of the novel and some initial thoughts.

The book centers around a love triangle between three characters that begins in college and unfolds as each enters the real world. Madeline Hana is an English Major writing her senior thesis on "the marriage plot," which lies at the heart of many 19th Century English novels written by the likes of Jane Austen and George Eliot. As Madeline examines the rationally played-out romances in her novels, she herself becomes entagled in a real life love triangle that proves to be far more messy and complex. She is caught in between Leonard Bankhead (the charismatic and manic depressive biology major) and Mitchell Grammaticus (the aloof and mystically inclined religion major). As all three characters start to face life in the real world, they are confronted by the flaws in their preconceived notions of what love is and forced to reconcile their past experiences with the present. 


I'm thinking about using the first letter in the author's last name, "E." Since the novels center around three characters, it could be interesting to explore each character as one of the three arms in the letter. 


Reality/Ideas, Old/New, Stable/Unstable, Mind/Body/Spirit, Mind/Nature

Eugenides draws a parallel between the way in which literary theories like deconstruction and structuralism served to destabilize the traditional novel, and the way in which the realities of contemporary relationships (marraige, prenups, children, mental illness, divorce, etc.) gradually break down the characters' naive interpretations of love. 

Key Quotes/Imagery:

"Madeline's love troubles had begun at a time when the French theory she was reading deconstructed the very notion of love."

"The lover's discourse was an extreme solitude. The solitude was extreme because it wasn't physical. It was extreme because you felt it while in the company of the person you loved. It was extreme because it was in your head, that most solitary of places."

"The magnolia treas hadn't read Roland Barthes. They didn't think love was a mental state; the magnolias insisted it was natural, perennial."

"If you use your head, if you become aware of how love was culturally constructed and began to see your symptoms as purely mental, if you recognized that 'being in love' was only an idea, then you could liberate yourself from its tyranny."

"I thought of the soul as resembling a castle, formed of a single diamond or a very transparent crystal, and containing many rooms, just as in heaven, there are many mansions."

Russian fable about a man who has fallen inside a well and is grasping onto a branch. Below him there is a dragon, and on the branch there are two mice nibbling at the wood. As he contemplates his inescapable fate, he notices that there is honey dripping from the end of the branch that he's holding and begins to lick the drops. "This Tolstoy says is our human predicament: we're the man clutching the branch. Death awaits us. There is no escape. And so we distract ourselves by licking whatever drops of honey come within our reach...What were he and his friends doing, really, other than hanging from a branch, sticking their tongues out to catch the sweetness?"

"Every letter was a love letter."

"Depression is like a bruise that never goes away. A bruise in your mind."

"And sometimes they were very sad." 

Character Attributes:

Madeline: Victorian Literature, Typewriter with the broken ribbon, Books, Old-fashioned, childhood wallpaper of French Madeline children's book illustrations...

Mitchell: Religion, Churches, "Interior Castle," Tom Waits-like, Tolstoy's Russian Fable, India, Mother Theresa, Cross, The Quakers, Light...

Leonard: Biology, Manic Depression, Lithium (metallic taste), chewing tobacco, bandana, yeast cells (research), haunted house (the murder, his father's antique prints, his mother's glass of "water" with the ice tinkling, DNA, black velvet cape, gambling...


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