Editha Essay, Research Paper
Feminism in American Short Stories
Editha, by William Dean Howells and The Revolt of Mother, by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, present essentially the same type of character in two very distinct manners. Howells depicts Editha as a selfish and spoiled lady, while Freeman describes mother as a strong-willed person who simply does things when they need to be done.
Howells gives the reader the impression that Editha is a very harsh and abrupt woman who totally disregards the feelings of others. When she is talking to George about going to war, she says But there is no question of wrong in this case And I know you will see it just as I do, yet (Howells 1082). She has one fixed opinion about this war and she doesn t care what he thinks about it. Editha needs him to go to war so that she can have her ideal hero. She had always supposed that the man who won her would have done something to win her; she did not know what, but something (Howells 1082). This is that something that she needs George to do so that she can love him. This shows how shallow she is and how much she cares about her image. Editha is also very spoiled and dependent on other people. When she goes to tell George s mother of his death, she brings her father along to help her and support her.
Contrary to Editha, Mother is shown as a kind but strong woman. She doesn t manipulate people like Editha did to save her own reputation. Rather, Mother doesn t seem to care about her reputation. When Mother sets up house in the new barn, she knows that people think she is crazy. But she tells the minister There ain t no call for nobody else to worry about it (Freeman 1216). She doesn t make the decision for her own benefit, but rather she feels that she is doing what is best for her family.
What makes Editha and Mother similar is that they both seem to want control. Editha wants control so that she can make herself look good. She does this by manipulating her husband to do what benefits her. Mother on the other hand wants control so that things get done. When she sees that she is not going to get a new house, she converts the new barn into one. She doesn t make a big fuss out of it, she just does it because that is what needs to be done. It can also be said that both women are headstrong because they don t give up until they are satisfied with the situation.
These two stories show the similarities and differences between the way women are depicted by men and women. Howells thinks that women are harsh, selfish, and manipulative because that is the way he makes Editha act. By making Mother a kind, gentle, but firm woman, Freeman is trying to show that women aren t evil.