Study Guide

The Danish Girl Marriage

By David Ebershoff

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Everyone knows the traditional marriage vows: to have and to hold, sickness and health, yada yada yada, death. But there's nothing in the vows about what to do if your husband becomes your wife or your wife becomes your husband.

That's the situation Greta faces in The Danish Girl. She loves her husband, and she even loves it when her husband dresses up like a woman. But that woman turns out to be a totally different person and definitely isn't the same person as the man she married. So what's a wife to do? A marriage can have lots of stressors—financial trouble, lack of romance, and terrible fashion choices come to mind—but one partner deciding to change sexes ranks pretty high up there.

Questions About Marriage

  1. Is Einar and Greta's marriage one-sided? Is one person more invested in it than the other?
  2. Why is marriage so important to Lili?
  3. If Lili wants to be married so badly, why doesn't she stay in a relationship with Greta? Why do they divorce?
  4. What do Greta's two husbands have in common? How are they different? Do you think she will marry a third time? How will that marriage be different?

Chew on This

Greta believes in the "until death do we part" part of the marriage vows. Her first husband died, and when Einar becomes Lili, Einar "dies" too.

Greta's instinct is to always put her husband first because of the tragic death of her first husband, but her second marriage teaches her that sometimes she has to put herself first. You do you, Greta.

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