Love and Marriage in "On the Black Hill"

Love and Marriage in "On the Black Hill"

  • Submitted By: laurissa
  • Date Submitted: 02/27/2009 5:20 PM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 1579
  • Page: 7
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Love and Marriage
-In On the Black Hill

Discuss Chatwin’s treatment of the themes of love and marriage in On the Black Hill…

Chatwin’s cynical illustration of the themes of love and marriage leaves the reader feeling distressed, with little faith in the purity of such concepts. In the novel we observe numerous covenants of marriage being made for all the wrong reasons. These include desperation to acquire a life partner, external arrangement, trapping by deliberate pregnancy, and aspirations for wealth. Such motives degrade the concept of marriage and all that it was originally intended to be; the sealing of a love commitment and sustained willingness to accommodate one another. Chatwin’s bitterness is explained in that he wrote this novel at the time of his separation from his wife of fifteen years, thus was inclined to be critical of such associated themes.

Amos’s first marriage was a destructive event. When Amos mentioned his dreams of emigrating to Argentina, his mother had “panicked and found him a bride”. Chatwin crudely describes the haggling that Hannah was engaged in to acquire a “plain, dull-witted woman, ten years older than he”, as well as “thirty breeding ewes, the lease of a smallholding…and grazing rights on Rhulen Hill”[1]. Her family had been eager to rid themselves of her, and Amos was obligated to marry, despite the obvious lack of love between the pair. Predictably, “there were no joys in that marriage”. It summarises the relationship in “Rachel Jones obeyed her husband with the passive movements of an automaton”. Amos became frustrated with Rachel’s lack of response and, and would beat her, seeking to satisfy his appetite for a reaction. In fact, the only emotion that Rachel expresses is when their baby son dies due to her inability to produce milk. She “set her face against the living world”, fatally depressed by her failure as a mother, and eventually dies of self induced starvation. From the day of her funeral, “Amos was a...

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