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Written by Dio Sm
They were young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible
This quote contains the main conflict of the story, the conflict between the individual and epoch, when the first one didn’t want to obey the rules of its time and didn’t find understanding and support. 1960s were times of relatively free sexual policy but still sex was a topic which wasn’t discussed in tea meetings and sexual difficulties were something to be ashamed of, it was something wrong and unacceptable, so everybody kept their problems far away from other people not to be misunderstood or judged. So, Edward and Florence both loved each other, but they have different positions according to sex question – he wanted it and she was afraid of it, but nobody spoke their mind till the marriage and this misunderstanding lead to their divorce. As we can notice, love didn’t work out that sexual issue.
Almost strangers, they stood, strangely together, on a fresh pinnacle of existence, gleeful that their new status promised to promote them out of their endless youth—Edward and Florence, free at last!
Everything seems so bright and sincere during young adulthood, when childhood is already behind and the adult problems don’t come yet. Their marriage was the first step to the adult life, and they had many plans to realize, and there was so much optimism in their eyes, so much naïve happiness that they really believed they were “on a pinnacle of existence” and everything they needed was love. Newlywed thought that they are free to live as they wanted, but they were terribly mistaken, they were prisoned with social norms and laws, where what is wrong and what it right was decided instead of them.
Where he merely suffered conventional first-night nerves, she experienced a visceral dread, a helpless disgust as palpable as seasickness
It is still a mystery for some readers how these two fell in love with each other. They are from different planets, didn’t they notice it? Maybe, it is true that love is blind and we are not the one who chooses our partner. There was something wrong with Florence and she knew it, she did her best, trying to convince herself that it is a natural process and she has to please Edward but it was in vain, her fear was stronger. And Edward in his turn, was too blind with his flesh desire that he didn’t notice that Florence didn’t want it. They both are selfish, in some way they both made attempts to compromise, but nevertheless, their marriage failed. Maybe, it was the only right decision in their lives.
Her problem, she thought, was greater, deeper, than straightforward physical disgust: her whole being was in revolt against the prospect of entanglement and flesh; her composure and essential happiness were about to be violated
So, what is wrong with Florence and why she hates sex so desperately remains unclear. There was a hint in a book that she may have been sexually abused by her father in childhood, but the author doesn’t develop this theme. Still, it is not just physical disgust which stops her, it is something which is hidden much deeper in her soul and it makes her suffer, because she doesn’t understand what is wrong with her. Sometimes people have such inexplicable fears and regard them as a pathology, departure from accepted standards, but the real reason may be even worse, because the events which took place many years ago can influence our further life.
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