Of Voluntary Solitude In Mary Wilkins Freeman's A New England Nun

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Voluntary solitude is approached with a different attitude by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman in her short story A New England Nun, than in most other contemporary works. No matter the medium, solitude is often treated as the failure to secure a partner, rather than an intentional personal choice. The portrayal of this thought has been perpetuating the negative social stigma against independence for centuries. Freeman’s story is still a rare exception despite its late 1800’s publication. In it, the author presents an opposing view of the decision to spend one’s life alone. She shows that solitude can act as the gateway to a life of happiness and self-fulfilment. In the story, protagonist Louisa uses her independent lifestyle to find freedom, serenity,…show more content…
She kept the home running smoothly every day, even through times of grieving and sorrow. She kept her dog, Caesar, safe and well-cared for. Her time caring for the established home helped hone her skills not only in the homemaking area, but also mentally. She may have become an emotional wreck after being left alone by her family and fiance, but she found solace in her tasks and responsibilities. Especially important was the fact that Louisa had years to adjust to these major life changes. As a quiet, naive girl who thinks very little of herself, Louisa may have struggled with the major change of becoming Mistress of a home at too early of an age. Instead, in the decade and a half that she waited on her betrothed, she grew and matured. This growth in strength was facilitated by her living situation. She was able to flourish in a familiar setting, surrounded by her favorite things. Since she lived alone, she was free from compromise and dealing with the decisions made by others. This allowed the girl to develop a strong voice and sense of self. She understood what she liked and what she was capable of, so she lived accordingly. Had Louisa immediately left home to marry Joe as a teenager, there might have been
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