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Drunk on “Love”

Call it a wild perversity or a wild optimism, but they were right, our ancestors, to celebrate what they feared.  What I fear, I avoid.  What I fear, I pretend does not exist.  What I fear is quietly killing me.

Jeanette Winterson’s “The Green Man” is a story told from the perspective of a cynical, world-weary father and husband, as he explores a Midsummer festival with his wife and daughter.  He walks with them throughout the fair, making bitter observations and feeling disconcerted with the path his life has taken.  He mourns the loss of intimacy with his wife and feels that he “shuffles behind [her] clutching the bills and tool box.”

The archetype of the Green Man is found in many cultures.  Dionysus and Bacchus are some of his other names.  He is found in Turkish myth, in Nepal, India, and Lebanon, among others.  Consistently he symbolizes nature and agriculture, as well as drunkenness and sexual inhibition.

The narrator in “The Green Man” reminisces about past Midsummer festivals, where he felt so much freer, wishing he could go back to those times.  He’s tired of his lackluster marriage, tired of feeling inferior to his wife’s success and determination.  When he finds himself facing an opportunity to break from his spiritless and loveless marriage, even temporarily, he takes it.  Drawn in by a beautiful woman, he loses himself for a few hours, caught up in the mysticism and aura of the fair.  He falls under the Green Man’s spell, and for a short moment, feels alive again.

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