Analysis: The Other Two

Hi, I’m the last fake blogger before stadarooni’s fated return from his (forced?) exile away from society. Unlike the others, I have no cable and no Netflix, so I’m forced to do some actual reading with what I can find in my basement. After some heavy procrastination, I finally managed to force out an analysis on The Other Two by Edith Wharton.

Edith Wharton clearly portrays the reality of a woman living in the early 1900s. Through Alice Haskett, the wife of the protagonist Waythorne, the reader sees that she has to go to extreme lengths to live a comfortable life during a time where a woman’s social standing was determined by her husband’s. During that time, the only way for a woman to climb the social ladder was through marriage and divorce, and Alice took full advantage of the divorce law to get to the top of the social ladder. Fooling Waythorne, her present husband and the entire city of New York to believe that she had been brutalized by her first husband, she divorced and married Gus Varick, a gentleman from high society. As the story progresses the reader quickly realizes that Alice is not the obedient, innocent angel Waythorne fantasizes her to be, a fact that Waythorne soon comes to an astounding revelation of.

Circumstances lead Waythorne to meet each of Alice’s other two husbands in-depth, no matter how hard Waythorne tries to avoid it. Their meetings become inevitable as his reputation and current marriage stability come into play. Waythorne easily accepts Varick as one of Alice’s previous husband due to his social standing. But when he accidentally stumbles upon Mr.Haskett, Alice’s first husband, standing in his parlour with a made-up elastic tie, Waythorne realizes that the wife he married is a lie. Waythorne cannot accept the fact that Alice was once so far below him and that she had once been married to someone like Mr.Haskett and the thought almost disgusts him. And this one action shows the large gap between the rich and the poor and the amount of importance humans place on materialistic things.

Not only that, after meeting Mr. Haskett, Waythorne comes to another realization that it wasn’t Alice that had been brutalized in the marriage, it was Haskett. Alice had manipulated the court into giving her the divorce by her acting. After finally coming to this conclusion, Waythorne, surprisingly, accepts it. He accepts the fact that his wife views him as just another tool for her to give herself a comfortable life and he accepts her past relationships with the Haskett and Varick. His acceptance is what kept his marriage with Alice and is actually a realistic portrayal of most marriages in which both sides turn a blind eye towards the faults and mistakes of the other. The story ends with Alice, Waythorne and her previous two husbands drinking tea and sharing cigars in the dining room. (I actually thought this ending was really weird, not to mention impossible, because what can possibly be more awkward than sharing tea with your wife and her two ex-husbands? Moreover, isn’t it worse that this event occurs basically every week?)

There. I hope the black blobs up there you can call paragraphs actually make sense. I don’t recommend anyone to read this short story because it’s quite difficult to get into for recreational reading. But if anyone reads it just because I said you shouldn’t then I’m sorry for spoiling the ending. If you are waiting for anything dramatic to happen in the story, I’m sorry this is not what you’re looking for.  The most exciting thing was probably Waythorne’s slight loss of composure over the fact that Alice is not of the same social class as him.

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