a sorrowful woman analysis

In the short story “A Sorrowful Woman” by Gail Godwin, she shows us how some women don’t always want the role of a mother and wife, some just want to be free. Godwin showed us this with a quote, “She tried these personalities on like costumes, then discarded them” (42). It also shows us that she doesn’t know her true identity so she tried out different personalities and none of them worked. Godwin started the story off with an epigraph that said “once upon a time” making it seem like the story was going to be like a fairy tale. That was not the truth. In a fairy tale the woman would want to spend time with her family, but in this story the woman never wants to be around them. This story is about a woman who gets very overwhelmed with her husband and son. As the story went on she began to shut them out of her life by locking herself in the spare room in their house. This took away the duties she had as a mother and wife, forcing her husband to do them. Her husband would give her sleeping draught thinking that it was helping her, but really it was making her more depressed. She started to taking the draught every night, “And now the sleeping draught was a nightly thing, she did not have to ask” (40).

He wanted to do whatever it took to make her happy. He hired a girl to take care of their son when he went to work. The woman then got jealous of the girl because she took over the roles that she used to do. She told her husband, “the girl upsets me” (40). After the girl was fired the woman locked herself in the white room that the girl was staying in. She would only leave the room when the husband and son were gone. While she was in the room she would dream of being free and a single woman as Godwin stated, “She was a young queen a virgin in a tower” (42). Towards the end of the story the woman began to notice changes throughout the house when she would leave the white room. One day the husband and son came home to, “found five loaves of warm bread, a roast stuffed turkey, a glazed ham, three pies of different fillings, eight molds of the boy’s favorite custard, two weeks supply of fresh-laundered sheets and shirts and towels, two hand-knitted sweaters (both of the same grey color), a sheath of marvelous watercolor beasts accompanied by mad and fanciful stories nobody could ever make up again, and a tablet full of love sonnets addressed to the man” (43). The woman completed all of this stuff when she was in the white room. After the husband and son saw all of the stuff they went to her room
and found that the woman committed suicide. The husband told the son that she was “tired from doing all our things again” (43).

Gail Godwin’s short story, “A Sorrowful Woman” indicated that not all women wanted to be a mother and wife and that some just want to be independent. Her story shows us that a person who locks themselves away from their family will reach a point where they cannot make it through another day so they commit suicide. Godwin did a good job providing examples of the feelings that the woman had towards her family. She also showed us that a man can also take on the responsibilities of a mother to a child. They way Godwin started off the story showed us that not every family has a happy ending like fairy tales do.

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