Symbolism in "a New England Nun"

analytical Essay
555 words
555 words

Symbolism in "A New England Nun"

The main character, Louisa Ellis, lived a life which paralleled both of her pets' lives, her dog Caesar's and her yellow canary. The animals and Louisa are trapped by their captivity, and because they have lived like this for so long, no longer crave freedom. Both Louisa and Caesar live solemn and isolated lives. This is shown when Freeman describes Caesars house as "half hidden among the tall grasses and flowers" (258). Given the setting of where Louisa lives, she is fairly isolated as well. There is only a little road running through "the quiet and unguarded village" (265) which she lives in. Because it is quiet, one can make the conclusion that there is little interactions between the townspeople and Louisa. They fear her dog, for it has bitten once when he was a puppy, and tend to stay away. Freeman does a good job in portraying the solitude among the characters. By showing their day-to-day routine and the setting of the houses and town, it is clear that Louisa is isolated and Caesar is hidden from society.

The location of the home of Louisa and Caesar's dog house is not the only way Freeman depicts isolation in the story. Louisa's dog Caesar, who Freeman compares to a hermit, was chained up in the yard. He lived a lonely existence with only his dog house and a couple feet of chain to restrain him. The dog became accustomed to solitude and seemed quite content. Her little yellow canary is also constrained to his cage. Comparable to the dog, the bird is usually found "turned into a peaceful yellow ball night after night", which could mean that it feels at ease in its tiny cage. Caesar was a prisoner of his home, and the canary is prisoner to his cage, similar to how Louisa was...

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... wildly, beating his little yellow wings against the wires" (259). When Joe is around Caesar, he threatens to take the dog off his chain and release him into the town. To Louisa, taking the dog off his chain symbolically relates to her being freed from the constraints Joe is putting on her. Because she, like the dog, have been alone for so long, it would be frightening to go out and experience new things. People tend to do what they know, and for fourteen years, Louisa and her pets have been accustomed to solitude. The man's influence is seen as disruptive since it threatens change on Louisa's life. The symbolism Freeman portrays between the pets and Louisa is immense and obvious. Because of this, it is easy for the reader to make such connections. Freeman's choices make this an easy to read story that appeals to all readers at all different skill levels.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how freeman portrays the solitude among the characters in "a new england nun."
  • Analyzes how freeman depicts isolation in the story. louisa's dog, caesar, was chained up in his yard, and her yellow canary was constrained to his cage.
  • Concludes that freeman intends louisa to be a woman dominated by strong spoken man, but in "revolt of mother," the mother was also seen as dominating by man but then stood up to him at the end.
  • Analyzes how freeman's title, "a new england nun," depicts louisa as an isolated, orderly, celibate woman.
  • Analyzes how freeman's choices make this an easy to read story that appeals to all readers at all different skill levels.
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