Fanny Fern was born Sarah Payson Willis in July of 1811 in Maine and died in 1872 at the age of sixty-one. Her father was “Nathaniel Willis, a printer and founder of the first periodical for children” (“Fern, Fanny” 844). Willis had a strong relationship with her mother while she “rebelled against her father’s grim Calvinist creed” (845). Willis attributes her talent to her mother. This relationship is something that is strongly reflected in her novel, Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time, through the relationships that Ruth forms with her daughters. Her amazing love and devotion to them resounds throughout the novel. For example when Ruth rescues Katy from Dr. and Mrs. Hall’s home and she comforts Katy. “’Lean your head on me and take a nice nap;’ and the weary child nestled up to her mother” (Fern 239). Ruth is such a comfort to her young children, and the reader feels a maternal connection to Ruth in this way.
Willis received a proper education from the Hartford Female Seminary and was married in 1837 to Charles Harrington Eldredge, with whom she had three children. Within the span of two years Willis’s mother, oldest daughter, and her husband all...
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...th Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time are so inspiring to their female readers.
The Lamplighter by Maria Susanna Cummins and Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time tell the stories of phenomenally strong, independent, and resilient women. These characters are the kinds of women that help empower women in the real world. Ruth Hall, Emily Graham, and Gertrude Flint help inspire confidence and provide hope for women everywhere. As the last words of The Lamplighter say, “’Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended” (Cummins 421). Similarly, Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time ends with: “Life has much of harmony yet in store for you” (Fern 272). These novels both end on a sentimental note of love, hope, and a sense of content.
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