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Plato's GhostSpiritualism in the American Renaissance$
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Cathy Guiterrez

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195388350

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388350.001.0001

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(p.77) 4 Marriage
Plato's Ghost

Cathy Gutierrez (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The creation of a white-collar class in America brought with it changes in demographic patterns, particularly where romance was concerned. No longer largely economic, marriage became increasingly seen as an emotional and romantic fulfillment of human needs. Spiritualists agreed that love was of utmost importance but recognized that many unhappy marriages resulted in women and children caught in impossible situations. Spiritualists advocated an eternal love between soul mates but fought for reform of marriage and divorce law at the same time. True love was understood using Aristophanes’ portrayal of the primal androgynous unit from Plato’s Symposium—love gathered the halves of bodies as well as souls. At the fringes of the movement were sex radicals and free-love adherents like Victoria Woodhull who called for dramatic legal reform in both marriage and eugenics.

Keywords:   marriage, romance, Aristophanes, Plato’s Symposium, soul mates, free love, divorce, Oneida Community, John Humphrey Noyes, Victoria Woodhull

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