Cider House Rules Isu Essay, Research Paper
Contemporary society advocates that without love, happiness is impossible. Webester’s
Dictionary defines happiness as, “ a state of well being or contentment.” Three types of
love which are necessary for contentment are; familial love, romantic love and friendship.
In John Irving’s, The Cider House Rules, Melony’s bitterness prevents her from
developing these forms of love vital for true happiness. Her hostility towards others
prevents her from developing familial love. Intense animosity and contempt ruin Melony’s
romantic relationships. Her bitterness leads to social isolation and the development of true
friendships become impossible.
An individual’s relationship with his/her family influences his/her development into
a functioning member of society. The fulfillment of the need for love and belonging begins
with a close family relationship. Melony’s malice and resentment towards others inhibits
her from experiencing this familial love. Throughout her life, Melony lives in many
different foster homes, yet a strong family bond is never formed. Her first experience in a
family environment is at the St.Clouds Orphanage. Several members of the orphanage’s
staff fail to establish a family bond with Melony. Mrs.Grogan is the head of the girls
division of St.Clouds as well as Melony’s primary care giver. Mrs.Grogan, “ was especially
fond of Melony but felt she failed at making Melony like her,“ (John Irving, P.89).
Mrs.Grogan continually expresses love and affection towards her, but is unable to initiate a
loving response. Melony’s constant attitude and bitterness towards others and prevent her
from developing a sense of familial love and consequently reaching true happiness. This
mannerism impedes on Melony’s development of future relationships in similar
environments as well. As an orphan, she is adopted several times by different foster
parents, but fails at being assimilated into the new families. Like Mrs.Grogan many of the
foster parents extend affectionate and loving gestures towards Melony but are denied an
appropriate response. Melony,
“had several unfortunate experiences in foster homes . . . Melony had run away
from the second and third foster families, alleging that the men in the families,
either fathers or brothers, had taken a sexual interest in her . . . In case
number six: the husband had died of a heart attack shortly after Melony’s arrival,
and the wife had sent the girl back to St.Clouds,” (John Irving, P.89-90).
Melony responds to the foster families efforts with viscous abuse. The attitude and hatred
she continually exhibits prevents her from experiencing familial love with the foster
families but ruins the family relationships she is introduced into as well. Melony’s
bitterness and consequent lack of familial love will hinder her development of future
relationships, ultimately ruin her chances of true happiness.
The relationships within a person’s family influence the romantic experiences
throughout his/her lifetime. Romance further satisfies an individual’s need for love and
belonging. Melony’s ongoing bitterness towards others ruins her romantic relationships.
She experiences few romantic encounters throughout her lifetime, achieving a substandard
level of satisfaction. Melony’s first significant romantic relationship is with Homer Wells,
and orphan at St.Clouds. Rather than base their romantic connection on love and mutual
respect, instead sex, physical appearances and a childhood promise become the basis for
their union. Homer’s guardian,
“knew, he had to get his apprentice away from Melony. The two of them together:
How they depressed Larch! They struck the doctor as a tired and loveless married
couple. What sexual tension Melony had managed to conduct between them in the
earlier years of their angry courtship seemed absent now. If they still practice a
sexual exchange, they practiced infrequently and without enthusiasm. . . It
appeared to Doctor Larch that some wordless, joyless bond existed between
them,” (John Irving. P.121).
Melony’s relentless anguish extinguishes the physical passion between Homer and herself.
Subsequently, the very basis of the couples romance loses it’s novelty and the union solely
relies on the childhood pact made between Homer and Melony. Her bitterness and
treatment of Homer leads to their inevitable departure. Their break up increases Melony’s
bitterness, and future distances her from the goal of true happiness. Her second significant
romantic experience is heavily influenced by Melony’s failure with Homer Wells.
Melony’s vengeful quest to seek out her former lover leads her to a city where she meets
her second romantic interest, Lorna. Unlike her relationship with Homer, Lorna and
Melony base their romance on mutual friendship.
“got out of bed and went into Lorna’s room to talk, but Lorna was so sleepy that
she wouldn’t get up; Melony got in bed beside her friend. . . That was how they
became lovers, listening to the false spring. . . ‘There’s one thing,’ Lorna said to
Melony. ‘If we’re gonna be together, you gotta stop lookin’ for this Homer
character. Either you want me or you want him,’ . . . ‘I want you,’ Melony told
Lorna. ‘Just don’t leave me.’ A permanent couple, that’s an orphan’s ideal; but
Melony wondered where her rage would go. If she stopped looking for Homer
Wells, would she stop thinking of him, too?,” (John Irving. P.402).
Both Melony and Lorna find a mutual sexual attraction for each other. Lorna is reluctant
to commit to a relationship initially because of Melony’s residing hatred and anger towards
her former lover Homer. Melony has doubts within her own conscience whether she can
assuage her anger towards Homer or find an alternate outlet for it. Just as Melony’s
bitterness fails her with Homer, it alters her relationship with Lorna. Melony’s animosity
and contempt ultimately interfere with her romantic needs and prevent true happiness from
Melony’s inability to maintain a romantic relationship is closely related to her lack
of desire to build friendships. Friendships satisfy the need for love and belonging as well as
provide a unique element of support. Melony’s resentment of others leads to social
isolation and the development of true friendships becomes impossible. Melony faces
betrayal on numerous occasions throughout her lifetime. Her fear of betrayal and rejection
forces her into isolation from society. Melony reunites with an old friend named Mary
Agnes Cork from the orphanage in St. Clouds. She is influential in the development and
life of Mary Agnes. She desperately wants to reestablish her friendship with Melony.
Melony, “ left Bath without saying goodbye to Mary Agnes Cork, who would have done
anything to please her, who asked all of her school friends . . . if any of them had ever
heard of an orchard called Ocean View. If this knowledge might make Melony her friend,
Mary Agnes Cork would have never stopped inquiring,” (John Irving, P.352). Mary Agnes
valued Melony’s friendship. She continues to offer her dedication and support to Melony,
however, Melony’s bitterness prevents her form trusting and accepting Mary Agnes’ desire
for friendship. Melony must be reintegrated into society in order for her to be truly happy
and forgive old hatreds. After fifteen years Homer Wells remains unforgiven by Melony.
Melony is unable to show forgiveness and begins to ratify old feelings for Homer. Melony,
“ was surprised that it was not with vengence that she thought of Homer Wells. . .
she could complain to Lorna about what Homer had done to her. Now
Melony imagined she could complain about Lorna to Homer Wells. . . Melony
discovered that she could think like this for one minute, but in the next minute
when she thought of Homer Wells, she thought she’d like to kill him,” (John
Lorna becomes a temporary outlet for Melony’s bitterness towards Homer Wells. Her
bitterness for her first lover is only diverted briefly and then she resumes her hatred for
Homer. Only will Melony’s forgiveness of Homer and Lorna overcome her social isolation
and then she can begin to develop true friendships and become truly happy.
Happiness is a virtue which relies on an individual’s ability to give as well as receive
love. Melony’s hostility causes her social isolation which prevents her from establishing a
genuine friendship. Melony’s intense bitterness ruins her romantic relationships. Animosity
and contempt towards others prevents her from developing familial love. In John Irving’s,
The Cider House Rules, Melony’s bitterness prevents her from developing the three
forms of love vital for true happiness. The key to happiness through out life is maintaining
healthy relationships with family, friends and lovers.