David Shumway's Modern Love

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This essay will analyse David Shumway’s book, Modern Love: Romance, Intimacy and the Marriage Crisis , from Chapter 3: Marriage as Adultery. In referencing the 1938 screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby, directed by Howard Hawks, I will identify the text’s central claims and test them against the film. Shumway’s ,main arguments revolve around three key topics; Culture and audience in regards to remarriage, the structure of screwball comedies compared to traditional historical romance films, and the progression of a woman’s role in screwball comedy films. Throughout this essay I will address and test themes alongside Bringing Up Baby. Shumway writes how remarriage became the leading plot of screwball comedies as, during the 20s through to the 40s,…show more content…
Stumpy argues how screwball comedies are founded on the “triadic narrative structure”. This is when one party is excluded bu the pairing of the two parties. Shumway references the novel The Crisis, which mimics this narrative structure, as well as The Philadelphia Story, as film in which the lead heroine is constantly between a reporter that she had just met, and her ex-husband. He states how the “actual or potential transgressiveness” of the behaviour is what makes the triadic structure significant. When alongside Bringing Up Baby, it can be seen how David is in the middle of this triadic arrangement, between his ex-fiancee Alice and being sought after by Susan. Although this follows the basic principles of the triadic structure, Bringing Up Baby does not circle around the three parties for it to be the central theme of the film, it is more of an element in the film, as David is not pulled back and forth between Alice and Susan. Despite this, it is clear to see the distinct use of the triadic structure in Bringing Up Baby as an element to the film. Shumway goes on to comment about the “paradox of adultery without sex” being one of the most “central conventions” of romantic narratives. He utilises the example of It Happened One Night, explaining how even the mention of one character loving another whilst being involved with a third exemplifies how romantic love, minus the marriage bond and

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