A cornerstone of American realism, it contrasts old and new worlds to explore social and moral issues involving family life and the traditional roles of women. Centering a novel on the theme of divorce was a radical concept in 1882, so this portrait of a failing marriage occupies a transitional moment in literary history. It opens in Equity, Maine, with a seemingly perfect love story. Ambitious journalist Bartley Hubbard and insecure Marcia Gaylord elope and move to Boston with great plans for their future. But Bartley's self-indulgence and Marcia's jealousy prove to be a combustible mix of character flaws that threatens to destroy the marriage—even after the birth of their child. A journey through each character's thoughts, feelings, and reveries, A Modern Instance winds its way around our hearts, promoting dialogue about the nature of marriage and the changing face of American society.