Analysis Of The Poem ' A Sorrowful Woman '

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“Once upon a time there was a wife and mother one too many times” (Godwin 39). This short story begins with the famous opening, once upon a time, which foreshadows that the story line will be similar to a fairy tale. It raises expectations for the story that all will be magical and end happily. A typical modern-day fairy tale is that of a distressed character who overcomes an obstacle, falls in love with prince charming, and they ride off into the sunset; living happily ever after never to be heard from again. Godwin however, puts an unexpected twist on “A Sorrowful Woman”. This short story is a tale about what can happen when everyday roles take over our identity. Ultimately, this short story challenges societal expectations of marriage…show more content…
Divorce from marriage would break the bounds of normality for this time period. Traditionally, women were stay at home who tended to the children, house chores, and duties when needed. Purposely, Godwin doesn’t give the characters names. This is important because it implies that the characters are not people, but they represent their role within the family. Godwin mocks a fairy tale by having the characters actions contradict expectations. This is shown when the mother is literally sick at the sight of her family (Godwin 39). Also when the child pretends to be a tiger and scratches the mother, scaring her off so she didn’t want to be alone with the boy anymore. The husband doesn’t save the wife from her state, he simply “understands” it and finds other solutions. He hires a girl to help care for the boy, but the mother resents this. The mother wishes to be happy with her roles but she cannot accept them, and despises the perfect girl for doing what she is unable to (Godwin 40-41 ).
The mother leads a life where her duties and societal expectations are met, but by doing this her happiness is lost. Once upon a time implies that she thought her life as a wife and mother would be perfect. The wife even attempts to find new roles to replace the ones she holds which do not suit her, “She tried these personalities on like costumes, then discarded them” (Godwin 42).
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