Editha, by William Dean Howells Essay

826 Words 4 Pages
William Dean Howells was an advocate of realism in writing; he believed that literary art should reflect the reality of the common man and demonstrate the truth of everyday current issues. He believed in truthful writing and he accepted very little at face value. He practiced this belief in his own writing, and his story called “Editha” is a good example of this. In this ironic tragedy, W.D. Howells shows the truth and nature of war. He uses a combination of metaphoric characters, irony, and the pathos appeal to create an almost grotesque parody of the reality of war. In final analysis, Howells is successful in highlighting the consequences of war and inspiring the audience to question the wisdom of those who advocate armed conflict. …show more content…
In contrast, the author uses George as a metaphor for those who would fight, kill, and die in the war; this element is an important part of the author’s persuasive strategy. W.D. Howells wants to appeal to the values and the emotional sensibility of his audience, for this reason, Howells portrays George as passive and unsure of himself. George is fearful of the war and he sees no glory in it. He believes that God is peaceful and the idea that God would advocate for war runs counter to George’s belief in peace. In short, the author uses George’s story to illustrate the consequences of war for the reader. This strategy works to persuade a resistant audience to relate to George, hence, lowering their resistance to the anti-war message of this piece.
W.D. Howells uses irony to illuminate the difference of perspective and conflict of interest between Editha and George. Editha is so busy trying to fix what she believes is wrong with George; she does not recognize the flaws in her own thinking. She secretly sees George as less than he is because of his peaceful nature, and she does not imagine that George is aware of her low regard of him. Editha uses three reasons to support her advocacy for the war, first, that to fight in the war will be glorious. Second, that the war is ordained by God, and third, that to fight for the country is to show devotion or loyalty. Similarly, war advocates have used these same reasons to rally the citizens to battle in past wartimes.
Open Document