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The book is a short story whose heading uses the idea of the biblical Eve as a temptress to depict a present-day Eve. Eve Harrington is the doppelganger of famous actress Margola Cranston who arrives in Broadway as an unknown actress who, in the long run, wins over the playwright and movie producers of the time to develop a successful career in show business (Orr, 287). She also gets into the good graces of Mrs. Richards, who, in turn, helps her to get in favor of famous producer Lloyd Richards. The thirst for success leads Eve into stealing the leading role from Mrs. Richards’ friend Margola Cranston.
However, Eve’s success is short-lived since she is exposed through a press release that brings her terrible past into the light of the public while also exposing her to be a fraud, identity thief, and slanderer. It is through this press release that she falls out of favor with the playwrights and producers that had previously favored her, and therefore she loses all the roles that she had landed in Broadway (Orr, 289). Eve’s never-ending luck and treachery are further brought out when she uses her charm and the characteristic of being a temptress to seduce Mr. Lloyd Richards. He falls for her charm, and to prove his love, and he divorces his wife. Through the connection that she has established with Mr. Richards, who is a producer, Eve can return to Broadway once again. Through the use of the influence of her new lover Mr. Richards, Eve lands several leading roles in Broadway and, in the process, becomes an overnight sensation, which was her initial goal after all.
Themes in the Wisdom of Eve
The book has a dominant theme of deceit. Eve is a woman who gets by through life by deceiving the people that she comes into contact with. Her primary goal in life is to become a Broadway star, and when she gets there, her initial idea of a comfortable journey is quashed. Only well-known and connected people landed roles in the plays, and therefore she devices plan to help her in getting to her dreams (Clark-Wehinger,1). She schemes ways through which she becomes friends with Mrs. Richards, who introduces her to the Broadway star Margola Cranston. Through their closeness and similar physical features, Eve manages to get the roles that were initially meant to be taken by Margola. Eve enjoys massive success, although a press release exposes her to be a fraud that should not be given any roles in the industry since she was not a genuine person.
At this juncture, it is expected that the cliché ending of narratives, where the antagonist is won over and leaves in defeat, would take place. However, the story takes a different turn of events when the out of favor Eve devices new ways through which she would eventually get back to Broadway. Eve seduces Mr. Richards, and her charm is so powerful that he falls helplessly in love with her, which leads to a relationship between the two. Mr. Richards divorces his wife so that he can be with Eve legally and also uses his influence as a renowned producer in Broadway to get his lover leading roles, which in turn return Eve in favor of the producers who had initially rejected her when the press release came out (Hadfield, 1). She soon achieves her lifetime dream of becoming a prominent performer at Broadway when she becomes an overnight sensation at Broadway.
Clark-Wehinger, Alice. "The Power of Illusion and the Illusion of Power in Mary Orr’s “The Wisdom of Eve” and Mankiewicz’s All About Eve." Journal of the Short Story in English. Les Cahiers de la nouvelle 60 (2013). https://journals.openedition.org/jsse/1347
Hadfield, Andrew. Lying in early modern English culture: from the oath of supremacy to the oath of allegiance. Oxford University Press, 2017.
Orr, Mary. The Wisdom of Eve. Dramatists Play Service Inc, 1994.
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