Gwilan's Harp Analysis

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Loss is one of the hardest things to cope with.

However, one doesn’t always realize the different ‘types’ of love they can experience until they’ve experienced more than one of them.

In these three stories, “Gwilan’s Harp,” by LeGuin; “The Washerwoman,” by Isaac Singer; and “The Last Leaf,” by O’Henry a theme of loss presents itself.

However, in none of these three stories is the loss identical.

These three stories present loss as a loss of meaning of life, loss as a physical need, no longer fulfilled, and loss as a loss of will to live.

All three are loss, but none of them affect their ‘subjects’ in the same way.

In LeGuin’s story, “Gwilan’s harp” the main character, Gwilan, experiences a very unique loss: the loss of what gave
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She looks around her, and sees someone who, like her, has a love for music.

She marries him, but when he dies she seems to have nothing left.

Gwilan’s loss is the loss of what gives life meaning and results in a feeling of wondering what to do next.

That kind of loss results in discouragement and possibly depression if the gap created by it remains unfilled.

The washerwoman in “The Washerwoman,” by Isaac Singer’s loss of her son is much like Gwilan’s loss.

It is a loss of meaning in life, but, unlike Gwilan, the washerwoman is able to let go, forgive him and move on.

Thus, unlike Gwilan, the washerwoman doesn’t get depressed or discouraged by what her son has done.

In the same story the Jewish family also deals with a loss, however, not a spiritual loss but a physical loss.

The Jewish family relies on the washerwoman to do their laundry, and when she disappears with the majority of their clothing they are left wondering what to do.

Physical loss is different from loss of meaning of life in that it doesn’t leave one with the same
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