Eudora Welty's The Ponder Heart as Dramatic Monologue

Satisfactory Essays
Eudora Welty's The Ponder Heart as Dramatic Monologue

Dramatic Monologue", Edna is defined as the filter through which we see everything.

"What we commonly call "point of view"-- is the nexus of our interpretation of the

novel's characters, events, and thematic significance"(Nissen 1, emphasis added).

According to Nissen Welty's narrators are often "ignored or misconstrued" by critics.

In "The Ponder Heart", Edna Earle is an exemplary storyteller at her best and at her

worst defined by critics as "bossy, narrow-minded and dumb" (Nissen 2, emphasis

added). Edna Earle fits none of these negative lashes. She is a Southern woman who

cares for her family and community and tries to put them in their best light for her

audience. The form of dramatic monologue has long been a way for authors to give

their audience an inside view by allowing us to be voyeurs; we are not part of the story,

but simply folks who are passing by the actions at hand. With this genre tag already in

place, we bring to our reading certain expectations. "In a sense, we never read a story

for the first time; we bring into our reading the expectations that previous encounters

with the genre have created" (Nissen 2).

Nissen sees Edna Earle as putting herself second in the line of importance to the

story she tells with Grandpa Ponder and Uncle Daniel as the primary forces that shape

her narrative. She sacrifices her own needs in order to fill those of Grandpa and Uncle

Daniel. "That she has been taken for granted must be painfully clear to the narrator as

well as her audience" (Nissen 9). In this way, she arouses sympathy from her audience

much in the same way as if we were passing by her on the street while she told her

story to a friend. We hear her, but are not free to help her. We are strangers in her

world and cannot affect the outcome of her circumstances.

In closing, Nissen rewrites the end to reflect the importance of Edna Earle's voice as

narrator. "I'd like to warn you again, Edna Earle may try to give you something--may

think she's got something to give. If she does, do me a favor. Make out like you accept

it. Tell her thank you" (Nissen 9).

I agreed with Nissen's article, but believe he could have stated his points more

concisely. This article was long for the amount he really had to say. There is clearly no

arguing the point that The Ponder Heartis a monologue, yet he spends three pages