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Compare and contrast how the authors of The Three Sisters and Teresa's Wedding portray marriage and relationships between men and women.

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Introduction

Compare and contrast how the authors of The Three Sisters and Teresa's Wedding portray marriage and relationships between men and women. The story of 'Teresa's Wedding' was written by William Trevor and set in Ireland in the 1960's. 'The Three Sisters' was written by Jane Austen and set in 1793. In both stories the central theme can be identified as marriage and relationships between men and women. Despite their differences in historical settings, both stories present an amazingly similar view of marriage, conveying it to be facade and pretence. The stories both suggest that, to an extent, social conventions result in unfulfilling and unsatisfactory relationships. Jane Austen presents her view of marriage in the form of characters and letters. Mary's proposed fianc´┐Ż, Mr Watts, is in possession of a 'large fortune and will make great settlements' on her, evidencing that the women of 1793 entered marriage for superficial reasons. This is further emphasised in the first letter as Mary proclaims she cannot 'bear to look' at Mr Watts and that she 'hate[s] him more than anybody else' confirming that she is not entering marriage for love but for physical gain. Mary's abuse of Mr Watts the 'old fool' highlights Austen's view of marriage being pretence. The discussion between Mary and Mr Watts about the type of coach they will have to mark their marriage indicates that, for the women of Austen's time, marriage is seen as a way of acquiring property and a way of becoming richer and wealthier. ...read more.

Middle

Trevor further demonstrates the power of the church in Ireland during the 1960's through the character of Loretta and her situation. Loretta had no knowledge of sex, her friends never spoke about the subject and she was never taught about it in school. Her ignorance of sex had been influenced by the church's belief in sex as for the purpose of pro-creation not recreation and through the church's ability to control knowledge. The church is all powerful, all controlling and therefore has the ability to destroy lives. Jane Austen uses characters to convey her ideas and views of marriage. Mary is portrayed as being fickle through her opinion that she 'cannot run such a risk' of Mr Watts proposing to the Duttons and through her view that being married before Sophy and Georgiana would be a 'triumph'. Mrs Stanhope is presented as another foolish character; she is just as fickle as Mary. Sophy's mockery of her mother's views that if 'Mary won't have him then Sophy must' strongly evidences that Austen wants us to regard the mother as foolish. The writer uses the character of Sophy to launch an attack on the view that Mrs Stanhope represents in the story. Mr Watts cannot comply with Mary's demands, he views that her expectations are 'too high' and so he 'must apply to Sophy' who 'may not have raised hers so much.' ...read more.

Conclusion

Jane Austen accesses the two distinct personal voices through her use of epistolary format, her viewpoint is primarily female. Austen's writing was influenced by her observations of people and the oddities in human behaviour. Her stories have a somewhat limited outlook in terms of geography and experience reflecting Jane Austen's own experiences. She wrote about the world as she knew it. Her purpose of writing this story was perhaps that she looked to ridicule the conventions of her society regarding marriage. William Trevor on the other hand uses third person narration thus allowing the reader to drop into conversations. This method of writing gives the reader access to a wider range of thoughts and opinions about marriage. Trevor's purpose of writing this story was to attack the power of the church and through the way he presented the characters of Teresa and Artie as victims of this repressive church, he is criticising the power and authority of the church. The story begins with the image of the 'remains of the wedding cake', images of death, decay and destruction. The sympathy of the reader is engaged for both Teresa and Artie. However, the story end on an optimistic note as the worst thing that could happen has happened and the reader firmly believes, like Teresa, that they 'might make a go of it after all'. Conversely Mary and Mr Watts are both presented as victims of their own greed and so the reader's feelings towards them are remarkably different. They deserve each other. 1 ...read more.

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