Water For Elephants Theme Analysis

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The desire for love can break the bonds of confinement sometimes leading to positive occurrences and other times to negative ones. Freedom is always wanted, but when it is not available, constraints will be broken. One’s personality in the novel analyzed will decide whether they break the rules or follow them. In Water for Elephants, the main characters are either confined or free, and they deal with and create this underlying theme depending on their personality and character. Jacob, Marlena, and August conflict with each other in the fight for freedom and love. The theme of the novel is derived from these characters’ roles. The hierarchy on the circus is the confinement, but the main circus performers and workers take risks for love. In Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, Jacob, August, and Marlena, create the…show more content…
She is married to August although she admits, “‘I think I’ve loved you [Jacob] from the moment I laid eyes on you. But don’t you see? I’m married to August” (Gruen 274). For Marlena too August is a barrier. She does not love August the way she loves Jacob, but August is her husband. She is tied down August, another example of him symbolizing confinement. Her love is a motivating force that gives her freedom in the end. Marlena’s beauty adds to the theme as well because she tempts Jacob to break confinement. He is in a trance when they are in bed together describing it as; “[h]er fingers flutter their way around my ear and down the back of my neck. I shudder. Every hair on my body is standing on end” (Gruen 271). Marlena is restricted herself, but for Jacob she is on the side of freedom. Therefore, in Jacob’s perspective, Marlena symbolizes the freedom he wants for himself, the animals, and Marlena more than anything. August and Marlena, symbolizing the opposites of the theme, do not go well together. Because they are married, conflict arises, adding to the plot of the novel as well as the underlying
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