Many of you may have read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat. Pray. Love. which has been translated into thirty languages and has remained on the paperback best seller list for a whopping 151 weeks. The book’s fan base is also evidenced by the upcoming movie based on Gilbert’s memoir, starring Julia Roberts. If you have not yet read Gilbert’s work, Eat. Pray. Love. chronicles the journey of a woman, recently turned 30, who rejects her conventional married life and sets out to find herself across Italy, India, and Indonesia. She leaves her marriage and any consideration of children far, far behind her.
NowI will be the first to admit I think Gilbert is a fantastic writer. There is no doubt she is witty, charming, and has no reservations whenit comes to self deprecating humor.
Somemay interpret Gilbert’s memoir as the story of a woman’s liberation. Or a journey seeking self-actualization. I however, still find myself perturbed by the underlying premise behind Gilbert’s story: abandonment.
Gilbert embarks on her “spiritual” journey at the expense of many people. Mainly her ex-husband, but also family and friends. She shuns her marriage, yet turns around and initiates flings with other men. Long story made short, she over indulges herself for a year and then decides to return to the US when she finally grew tired of foreign countries.
But she wasn’t alone.
Gilbert’s new follow up to Eat. Pray. Love., is appropriately titled Committed. Another memoir, Committed details Gilbert’s preparation to wed her Brazilian lover who she met in Bali during her trip for her first book. She was recently quoted in The Boston Globe as saying,
“The leap into marriage has not come easily for me, but perhaps it shouldn’t be easy. Perhaps it’s fitting that I needed to be persuaded intomarriage – vigorously persuaded.”
I wish Gilbert all the best. However, her actions are not laudable. It is stories like this that are spread through mass media that contain the potential to alter our belief systems. In this sense, Gilbert’s so-called inspiring story puts a fun spin on divorce, and encourages women to be self-indulgent. Gilbert’s actions are hypocritical and irresponsible at best. Should she wish to shun the institution of marriage, so be it. Marriage isn’t for everyone. But I cannot fathom the notion of someone having to be “vigorously persuaded” into marriage. Marriage in my opinion should be a somber, deliberative and joyous act shared between two people. Propagating stories like this devalues the institution of marriage.
If Gilbert found marriage to be an unacceptable lifestyle the first time around, why would she resubmit herself to it?