The Marriage Plot Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Marriage Plot

This book is about a love triangle and about life after college graduation. Madeleine Hanna is a student. She studies English Literature and her main focus is on the intriguing plot of the 19th century novel: the marriage plot. She is struggling hard to understand the marriage plot in the context of the feminist movements, the sheer number of divorces and separations and the major depression of the 1980's.
Click here to see the rest of this review

Leonard Bankhead joins one of Madeleine's classes and she likes him very much. Leonard is a lonely guy. He is a scientist, he likes Darwin and his work, he is very smart and Madeleine falls in love with him despite her close friendship with another guy named Mitchell Grammaticus. Mitchell becomes extremely jealous because deep down he believes the he is destined to marry Madeleine. Mitchell studies mysticism and religion.

Madeleine, Leonard and Mitchell graduate from collage and go separate ways. Mitchell goes on a trip to India in order to forget all about his obsession with Madeleine. Then he decides to go further and see the whole world and understand religion.

In the mean time Madeleine moves in with Leonard and she finds out that he is mentally ill. Leonard is bipolar and he needs to take lithium and other medications to keep his moods in check. Madeleine and Leonard spend some time together in his small apartment and then they move to Cape Cod. Leonard needs to move on with his postgraduate studies by working in the scientific labs in Cape Cod and Madeleine keeps him company and helps him cope with his illness.

After a while they are moving back to New York and they are getting married. But Leonard's illness is getting worse. He becomes extremely depressed and suicidal and he wants to divorce Madeleine. She loves him very much and she refuses to divorce him but in the end Leonard runs away and Madeleine can't find out what happened to him.
Best part of story, including ending: I liked Madeleine and Leonard's relationship. I've got a better understanding of what it means to be bipolar.

Best scene in story: My favorite scene is the one of Madeleine and Leonard living peacefully in his extremely small and empty apartment.

Opinion about the main character: I like her dedication toward Leonard and his illness.

The review of this Book prepared by Andreea Lupei a Level 5 American Goldfinch scholar

Chapter Analysis of The Marriage Plot

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999 Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Lover is    -   mentally ill Unmarried Love Triangle?    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American) Unusual characteristics:    -   Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast Misc setting    -   scientific labs

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing    -   actual description of hetero sex Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like The Marriage Plot

Jeffrey Eugenides Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian