The Wife: What's Love Got to Do With It?


Washington Irving's The Wife is a schmoozy love story. Well, it isn't much of a story, but a single questioning thought: After all this, will you still love me?

Nowadays, many more women are entering the workforce while many men are either losing jobs, laid off, or remaining unemployed. While becoming more acceptable these days, to be a layabout or a "kept man" was unthinkable in Irving's time.

The dark cloud of worry seems to follow the protagonist, George, everywhere he goes. At the same time his wife reassures him of her love for him, he worries and doubts yet again she will be able to "handle" the tribulations that may occur. George's main problem is that he follows the road laid before him, the likes of Shakespeare's Othello more than an other. It comes down to the simple idea that communication is key to any relationship.

Doubt is never a good thing. I can speak of this point quite clearly, as I am still wondering what my own wife is doing with me after seven years. Self doubt, or the little buzzing in one's ear about why they will never be good enough, is a nasty little demon that takes hold of a person and eats them alive from inside. The dreadful balance of truth and happiness can be described in this line: "The more he saw cause to love her, the more torturing was the thought that he was soon to make her wretched." (Irving, 44)

But for all the fretting and skull-scrambling George does, Mary loves him for what they have, not what they are without, all the way to the end of the story.

The only question I have is why the narrator refers to his friend as Leslie, and Mary calls him George. Perhaps Leslie is his surname? Or is the narrator taking one last chance to have a secret George is keeping from us?


I think George was the narrator but I could be wrong, the dialogue did get a bit confusing there at the end. I wonder about your comment about it being more acceptable nowadays to be a "kept man". I'm not sure if I would be able to respect a man who did not at least contribute to my support and that of our children. These days, even a woman who stays home to be the care provider for her partner and children is frowned upon. I'm definitely not saying that they should be, but unfortunately it is a reality for a lot of homemakers. Is that term even used anymore?! Undoubtedly this is a really interesting topic.

I do believe that you are correct Theresa, George is the narrator and Leslie is Mary's husband. I know that as a full time student, with a full time job, a part-time photographer and a single mom that I get jealous of my married friends that sit home and have such a hard life! Oh if Leslie would quit being such a pessimist maybe he would see earlier that his wife loves him not just for his money.

You know that song, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow"? While I was reading your post, I was thinking that...

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This page contains a single entry by Michael McCullough published on September 2, 2010 9:06 AM.

20 years of beer goggles and all I get is this stinkin' country? was the previous entry in this blog.

Evil versus Good: Have a Little Faith is the next entry in this blog.

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