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The Long Arm Short Story Analysis

Decent Essays
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s short story “The Long Arm” is based on the famous Lizzie Borden narrative, following the prominent story of a daughter being accused of the murder of her miserly father. Both Lizzie and her fictional counterpart, Sarah Fairbanks, were made to look guilty based on the destruction (or alteration, in Sarah’s case) of a dress that was thought to hold incriminating evidence. However, they both were acquitted based on a lack of compelling evidence against them. Despite these similarities, Freeman did change some aspects of the tale in order to provide a commentary on gender and more closure than the Borden case provided. In the story, Freeman provided Sarah a love interest (whom her father disapproved of), which offered her an additional motive. The forlorn lover, Henry, gave authorities another possible suspect in the case. While there has been some speculation of Lizzie having a secret lover, no theories have been proven, and certainly no romantic interests were accused of the murders. Another addition to “The Long Arm” was a clear confession of guilt at the end of the story, including a clear motive and step-by-step depiction of the whole ordeal. Freeman also excluded prominent figures from her version of the narrative, such as Abby Borden (Lizzie’s stepmother and second murder victim), Emma Borden (Lizzie’s older sister), and Bridget (the family maid).
Even though Freeman took some creative liberties in regards to the Borden tragedy, the story shared
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