Publication Date

1997

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

First Advisor

Miller, James M. (Professor of English)

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Department

Department of English

LCSH

Jewett, Sarah Orne, 1849-1909. Country of the pointed firs||Chopin, Kate, 1851-1904. Awakening||Wharton, Edith, 1862-1937. Ethan Frome||American fiction--Women authors--History and criticism||Women in literature||Isolation (Philosophy) in literature

Abstract

This thesis examines the effects of women’s culture on the theme of isolation in women’s writing produced at the turn of the century. The Country of the Pointed Firs, The Awakening, and Ethan Frome are indicative of the theme of isolation and alienation popular at that time. Furthermore, they demonstrate a change in women’s relationships that, in turn, affects plot. In Sarah Orne Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs, the people of a small fishing village in eastern Maine are isolated from the rest of the country and the progress of the post-Civil War era. Yet, the remnants of a female culture still exist, and the women use that network of friendships to mitigate their loneliness. In The Awakening, Kate Chopin demonstrates a feeling of ambivalence toward women’s culture as Edna Pontellier seeks female friendships in Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz as a means of mitigating her feelings of isolation. Ultimately, however, she becomes further isolated, as she fails to identify with either of them. Edith Wharton’s negative attitude toward a female culture is demonstrated in Ethan Frome. Although Zenobia Frome and Mattie Silver live on a secluded rural farm in Massachusetts^they fail to develop any type of friendship that would serve to mitigate their circumstances. Rather, Zeena is hostile and Mattie is competitive for the affection of Zeena’s husband, Ethan. Surprisingly, Zeena is found taking care of Mattie after the sledding accident. While all three of these novels thematically illustrate isolation, they also demonstrate how female characters cope (or do not cope) with isolation through their relationships with other women. Thus, these novels demonstrate the cultural changes that took place during a turbulent time for American women.

Comments

Includes bibliographical references (pages [65]-67)

Extent

67 pages

Language

eng

Publisher

Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type

Text

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