The thesis consists of an introduction, two chapters, and a conclusion.
In the introduction I give the grounds for my choice of topic. I tell about Freeman s time, life, and work. Her short stories from rural New England attracted much attention. She was praised for their literary quality, and she was immensely popular during the late 1880s and up to the early 1900s. Her protagonists are mostly women, and her woman themes have recently caught the interest of many writers and critics who find her concern for women and women s worlds worth new consideration.
Chapter 1 is my interpretation of The New England Nun , a well-known story by Freeman. The story opens for different interpretations and for partly contradictory clues to the text and to Freeman s conception of Louisa Ellis. I have looked at the analyses of Marjorie Pryse, Lorne Fienberg, Norma Johnsen, Edward Foster, Perry Westbrook, and David Hirsch during my own study of the story. It is my conclusion that Louisa Ellis made the right choice for herself when she opted for a single life, a life she finds fulfilling.
Chapter 2 is my interpretation of The Revolt of Mother , Freeman s most popular story. While doing my analysis, I consulted articles by Leah Blatt Glasser, Joseph Church, Joseph McElrath Jr., Mary Reichardt, Elizabeth Meese, and Edward Foster. Sarah Penn runs a risk with her revolt, but obtains what she wants and can probably live a fulfilling life afterwards. Domestic work is a pleasure for her.
I have remarked in my conclusion that Freeman portrays numerous women of all types and ages in her stories. Questions of courtship and marriage come up when she deals with younger women. Louisa Ellis belongs to this group of women, although she has passed her first youth. Married women are at another stage in life. Freeman writes about old couples, but seldom about young and middle-aged families with children. The Penns represent an exception. Sarah Penn s revolt for a good cause is crowned with success and can give encouragement to other married women. People in the last stage of life, old and lonely people, take up much room in Freeman s stories. She deals with their problems, both on the inner and outer level, and shows considerable insight in their situations. Poverty is often a main problem, but her brave characters do their best to ward it off.