Essay on William Hogarth’s “Marriage A-la Mode”

Family is an important social institution which has a great impact on social relations and society in general. “Marriage A-la Mode” unveils moral and social problems dominated in the society. In these conditions, Hogarth’s satires dwell on the darker side of human nature, including his love of jokes and riddles. In his work, a spirit of mischievous and subversive anarchy runs through his vivid images of family life and human relations. Thesis social and moral problems depicted by Hogarth more than two centuries ago are still in evidence today.

Help With Essay on William Hogarth’s “Marriage A-la Mode”
Help With Essay on William Hogarth’s “Marriage A-la Mode”

Hogarth addresses the problems of family values and the role of marriage in life of people. He portrays that for some women, marriage is probably the most cost-efficient antipoverty instrument a society possesses. In his work, Hogarth depicts confrontations between wealth and honesty. Marriage is the instrument to achieve high social position and money. For instance, Earl Squander arranges marriage of his son to the daughter of a wealthy city merchant. Hogarth criticizes that social position is more important than love and happiness, mutual trust and understanding between spouses.

In modern world, marriage is still a solution of poverty. These problems do not receive much publicity, because for some people they are too intimate or dedicated, they touch personal feelings and human soul. Modern values and world perception has less in common with 17th or 19th century life philosophy, but the question of marriage is still a topical one. Media portrays the problem of marriage problem both satirically and dramatically unveiling contradictions arisen in the modern state. Soap operas and TV shows address the issue of marriage from different perspectives including romantic relations and divorce, morality and ethics of pre-arranged marriage. Modern interpretations involve a radical change in the nature of society and the structures of marriage (Smith, 1998). The conditions of possibility, in which such a life can be attempted to be lived, take the view that the institutions of the modern marriage do have the potential for accommodating a range of spheres of life such as private morality and economic activity (Gallagher, Whitehead, 1997).

Some years ago, Bush administration has announced new welfare reform aimed to eliminate poverty by marriage. The most disturbing fact is that political figures and government see ‘marriage’ as one of the most effective tools to eliminate poverty, the idea criticized and satirized by Hogarth two centuries ago (Stewart, 2004). Media depicts that success in the workforce may make women more independent and therefore more selective about the men they will consider marrying. In addition, more time at work means less time to pursue relationships, especially for single mothers whose time is already stretched thin. Media portrays that people lie about their past and income in order to marriage a wealthy man or woman. Hypocrisy and mendacity, shortsightedness and sanctimony are the main characteristics satirized and criticized by media today. Media shows the results of such marriage life and its possible failures.

A new satire might unveil that “rosy dreams” proposed by pre-arranged marriage will fail and result in distress and despair. The existence of the institution of marriage, in which men played the dominant role and wielded control, placed women at the mercy of their male counterparts. If dreams and hopes do not come true, marriage life becomes a vein sacrifice which is painful and sorrowful causing terrible sufferings and emotional burden for both spouses. Modern marriage, romantic or arranged one, has many difficulties that prevent realization of the good life today. Romantic love and romantic relations is a good start for a young family but if they end, it leads to divorce and disappointment.

References
1. Hogarth, W. Marriage A-la Mode. 1743. Available at: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/cgi-bin/WebObjects.dll/CollectionPublisher.woa/wa/work?workNumber=NG113
2. Gallagher, M., Whitehead, M. D. End No-Fault Divorce. First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, No. 75, August-September 1997, p. 24.
3. Smith, George P. Family Values and the New Society: Dilemmas of the 21st Century. Praeger Publishers. Westport, CT. Publication Year, 1998.
4. Stewart K. Uncle Sam Wants You to Get Married. 2004. Available at: http://gadflyer.com/articles/?ArticleID=212

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