the yellow wallpaper short story cover
Short stories

Mental Health and Self-Agency: Themes In ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a short story about a woman’s descent into madness because her doctor husband downplays her mental illness. The story is also an ideal illustration of the 19th century society’s view of mental illness, and clear criticism of the rest cure that was often administered to patients with mental illness.

From a feminist literature perspective, Gilman shows how the lack of self-agency that characterized a woman’s life during the Victorian era was harmful. This literary analysis essay explores mental health and agency as the main themes in Charlotte Perkins’ The Yellow paper and how they intersect to create an ending that can be viewed as mental breakdown and mental freedom at the same time. 

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a jury of her peers feminist short story
Short stories

“A Jury of her Peers” by Susan Glaspell Feminist Analysis

In A Jury of Her Peers (1917) by Susan Glaspell, two women find crucial evidence that could convict a fellow woman for murder but choose to conceal it from the male authorities because they “understand” why she did it. This story is based on true events of the 1901 Hossack Murder Case which Glaspell covered as a reporter. A farmer’s wife (Margaret Hossack) was accused of killing her husband at night with an ax, convicted of murder, but freed after one year when her conviction was overturned and the jury couldn’t come to a consensus in a second trial. Among the issues of concern in the case was the couple’s troubled marriage and accusations of spousal abuse inflicted on Margaret.

This essay will use the feminist literary theory to analyze A Jury of Her Peers by expounding a few elements and themes of feminist literature that are present in the story.

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Poems

“Good Bones” by Maggie Smith Poem Analysis: Exploring the Theme of Realism

How do you tell your children about life and all its realities? How do you explain the fact that life is as evil as it is good? In Maggie Smith’s 2016 viral poem “Good Bones” the speaker resolves to keep the terrible part from her children and offer hope of making the world beautiful instead. The poem is a parent’s reflection of the real world and how they wish their children could perceive it. Taking a closer look, the poem is also the speaker’s effort to convince herself too that maybe the world could be beautiful; that she could make the world beautiful. Smith applies a realist literary style that effectively relays her message and enhances the theme of life’s reality.

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Poems

“Work Without Hope” Poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Using Contrast to Emphasize Lack of Hope

The 1825 Romantic era poem Work Without Hope” by Samuel Taylor is a lamentation of a man who lacks an object to place his hope and thus, wonders aimlessly and directionless amid nature. While slightly unconventional for a sonnet, the poem begins with the speaker romanticizing nature and how it seems busy going on with its unfading life, blooming only for itself. The poet then introduces a sharp contrast between these nature’s activities with his own lack of hope and an object of desire to keep hope alive. In several instances, the author employs this literary device – contrast – to underscore the misery from being directionless and hopeless and to build on the poem’s main theme: hope.

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Short stories

Tying Symbolism and Irony in “Our Christmas Reunion” by Edward Chinhanhu

When the African continent, and especially the Southern region, was grappling with HIV/AIDS pandemic, SIDA, in collaboration with the University of Cape Town, used literature to raise awareness by showing how communities were dealing with the disease. Edward Chinhanhu’s short story Our Christmas Reunion is among the pieces that shone in the ‘Share Your Story about HIV/AIDS’ creative writing competition and anthologized in Nobody Ever Said AIDS: Poems and Stories from Southern Africa. A story that interweaves love, family, innocence, loss, sex education, and AIDS so well that in the end, every one of the themes is felt in equal measure.

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Short stories

Hints of Evil: How Shirley Jackson Foreshadows the True Meaning of “The Lottery”

Nearly everyone who reads Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery cannot even begin to fathom the true meaning of the lottery until it has already happened. The shock that we experience at the end on learning that the lottery’s winner becomes a sacrificial lamb to fulfill a tradition that has long lost its meaning catches us off guard.

And I think this is partly the reason this short story is still a success among Jackson’s readers; unknown to the reader, she builds on suspense that we only come to realize in the end. The hints that Jackson provides throughout the story only become evident after the first read. It is then that we go back to the story from the beginning and start seeing these instances of foreshadowing in bolder colors.

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Short stories

A Thin Veil of Satire- “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Numerous authors have opined Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Young Goodman Brown“, each with a new perspective or an improvement of their former. While it is not a much explored topic, avid readers of Hawthorne can attest to the author’s regular use of humor and satire to address human follies.

Now, combining this kind of humor and an ironic attack on (Puritanism) religious practices gives us humor as a standalone linguistic device that is both symbolic and thematic in this story.

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