Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia has sold over 8 million copies worldwide and been translated into 30 different language. Gilbert’s memoir has found an impossibly wide audience, yet few readers have been through a draining divorce or had the opportunity to drop everything and travel around Italy, India, and Indonesia for a year. So why do so many people identify with Eat, Pray, Love? It turns out the answer isn’t in the pizza she ate in Italy or the insight she received in India. The answer is in her action to leave her old life behind and realize that her life doesn’t have to look a certain way anymore. Many people responded to Eat, Pray, love because it is a self-governing story in which Gilbert proves that any individual has the power to take charge of their life. Gilbert reinforces this idea through her use of humor. Throughout her narrative Gilbert interjects bits of comedy during moments of despair to show how one can use humor to find inner freedom and gain control over their life.
Gilbert certainly uses humor to makes her audience more comfortable as she exposes intimate details about her divorce, depression, and loneliness, but she also uses humor to direct her audience to the little windows of hope that exist no matter how bad the situation is. When Liz describes her state of depression she was in when she first arrived in Italy she says her symptoms included “loss of sleep, appetite, and libido, uncontrollable weeping, chronic backaches and stomachaches, alienation and despair, trouble concentrating on work, inability to even get upset that the Republicans had just stolen a presidential election… it went on and on” (Gilbert 53). Even though Gilbert is presenting a rather dark moment in her life, she adds a taste of comedy to show her audience how they can take control of their life through their outlook. Gilbert does not allow herself to feel shameful for her past nor does she ignore it. She embraces the truth then copes with it by making a joke about it. The way that Gilbert deals with hardship follows the larger narrative that any individual has the power to self-govern their life.