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A New England Nun by Mary E WI

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A New England Nun by Mary E WI

In "A New England Nun", Mary E. Wilkins Freeman depicts the life of the classic New England spinster. The image of a spinster is of an old maid; a woman never married waiting for a man. The woman waiting to be married is restricted in her life. She does chores and receives education to make her more desirable as a wife.

This leads to the allegories used in this short story. The protagonist life paralleled both of her pets' lives, her dog Caesar's and that of her little yellow canary. Both comparisons are of restriction and fear of freedom. The animals and the woman of this story are irreversible tamed by their captivity, and no longer crave freedom. Ideas of sin guilt and atonement are also present between the woman and the dog. These images typify nineteenth century beliefs of women and their place in society. This story of Louisa Ellis is an allegory for woman, and uses the levels of allegory ironically. The stories of the dog and the bird layer the theme to help represent Louisa's life, who in turn represents the Eighteenth century woman of society. Louisa's animals and their relationship to her suitor are further links between her and her pets. The suitor brings out different traits than the norm in both the animals and the woman of this story. The man's influence is seen as disruptive. Man is seen as a threat to the serenity and security of a spinster's life.

Imagery put forth by this story, and by stereotypes of the day is of the new England spinster. Women who were not married yet, lived a life of chores and piousness. They learned their domestic chores and other things that would make them presentable as a wife. They did gardening work, read literature, mended clothing and the sort. These women were dependent on men to come and take them, to change their lives. Those who were not chosen were called old maids or spinsters. They typically were wealthy enough not work, so they lived a singular existence at their homes. Their homes became prisons. Leaving the home was possible but there was nothing out of their home environment, so they were left with no other choice but to lead their domestic life. The routine of their domestic chores became a part of their essence leading to the almost manic neatness of Louisa's home.

Louisa was upset by Joe Dagget when he disturbs her autograph book and her gift book. She has a specific placement of the books. Joe transposes the order when he finished looking at them. This annoys her greatly, so she returns the books to their original order as if was compulsive. The order of her house like the structure of her life gave Louisa a sense of security. She becomes nervous if not angry when Joe later knocks over her work basket. The order of her house is so compulsively exact that she feels the need to remove his tracks from the rug.

Joe Dagget and Louisa Ellis were engaged for over fourteen years. He went to Australia to make his fortune, while Louisa waited patiently for Joe's return. While Joe was away her mother and brother both died leaving her alone. She became used to solitude and even grew fond of it. When Joe returned he disturbed her life, just as he disturbed her work basket.

Louisa's dog Caesar was chained up in the yard. He lived a lonely existence with only his dog house and a couple feet of chain in his world. Caesar was a prisoner of his home as Louisa was a prisoner to her's. The dog became accustomed to solitude and would not know any other way of existence. Joe came back after fourteen years to take Louisa away from her prison, but also would have freed the dog. Joe said " . . . and it's down- right cruel to keep him tied up there. Someday I'm going to take him out." Louisa objects to this fearing the animal nature of the dog that had laid dormantly for fourteen years.

Around the same time as Louisa and Joe became engaged, Caesar bit one of the Ellis's neighbors. He bit the man leaving teeth impressions in the neighbors hand. This man demanded that either the dog be destroyed or to remain tied up. Louisa's brother built the dog house for Caesar, and that is where he has remained since. Caesar in reality was good natured but committed one transgression. He paid for his actions for the rest of his life. The dog after the incident never barked loudly, almost out of guilt.

Louisa also had a transgression fourteen years before the time of this narrative. She had a lover. According to the narrative Joe Dagget was Louisa's first lover. In a way she became tied to her home as Caesar is chained to his dog house for her sin. She ...

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