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"A sorrowful woman "is a short story by Gail Godwin's based on the mother and a wife overwhelmed with her child and husband and gradually withdraws from them. The sorrowful woman completely shuts her husband and child out of her life. The dissatisfaction in the life of the sorrowful woman is because of the fact that she is not happy with the roles of a mother and wife and attempts different approaches in order to fulfill these roles but still, she gets no satisfaction in her duties (Gail, pgs 1). The sorrowful woman finds it difficult to cope with diverse choices she encounters as opposed to the traditionally specific roles. In comparison to her female counterparts in the era of gender equality, the sorrowful woman seems to lag behind in this modern era. This paper therefore provides a detailed analysis, highlighting the plot, the character of the protagonist and professional view on the story of the "sorrowful woman".
The sorrowful woman in this story is to a certain degree dissatisfied with her traditional duties as caretaker, wife, mother and housekeeper but her disappointment is because she cannot fulfill these traditional roles. . This makes her unhappy with the life she is living and she wishes for a more fulfilling life and roles that can give her satisfaction .It is however important to note that the sorrowful woman lives a structured life since she has a family complete with a husband and a child. The fact that her life is confining her to taking care of her child and husband is the source of her dissatisfaction. Her inability to fulfill the traditional roles expected of her and her inability to fit into such a structure is the main source of her discomfort (Gail, pgs 2).
The woman failing to find satisfaction in any of her present roles decides to withdraw, albeit makes attempts not to have any role or duty. The white undecorated room points to the idea that the woman is making attempts to free or empty herself of her previous lifestyle (Gail, pg 3). The sorrowful woman also attempts to find a meaning in her life by trying out other activities such as writing poems, but the woman shies away from writing since she encounters many options and this confuses her. After moving to the white undecorated room, the sorrowful woman develops a tendency of brushing her hair in every sunny day.
Choosing to move into the white undecorated house is very symbolic in the sense that color white can at times be very sterile and cold. This is an illustration of her lack of attachment to her home and family. Her description of the view of streets, as that of outsider only watching but cannot participate (Gail, pgs 4). The woman considers herself a virgin trapped in a tower, profoundly isolated and untouchable. The protagonist in this book isolates herself physically and emotionally since she does not allow herself any personal relationship with the world nor attachment to anyone or anything in it. This makes the sorrowful woman an outsider, watching but not participating in the world (Gail, pgs 3)..
The plot of Gail Godwin's short story "a Sorrowful Woman" revolves around the notion of motherhood and marriage. In the contemporary society, a happy marriage is a life-satisfying dream of most women in the society. It follows the fairy tale of meeting prince charming, settling down in a marriage, having children and living happily forever (Gail, pgs 1). The story is almost the opposite the fairy tale since there is more sorrow than joy in life of the protagonist. The woman is not happy with her life, especially the traditional roles of wife and mother that she is unable to fulfill. The beginning of the story highlights the irony of the story since it starts with the phrase "once upon a time" synonymous of fairy tales and ends with the description of a wife and a mother, "one too many" (Gail, pgs 1). Instead of living the fairy tale of living happily ever after, the woman in the story lives a very sad dissatisfied life despite the fact that she has a husband and child. However, the story does not provide detailed information about the life of the protagonist before childbirth. Some passages in the story presume that the sorrowful woman lived a harmonious and beautiful life.
The author gives a grim description of marriage as a source of sickness, imprisonment and unhappiness. The home and her traditional roles of a mother and wife are burdening her. The story highlights how the woman resorts to isolation and withdrawal from her child and husband as a means of moving away from life, which is suffocating her (Gail, pgs 4). It is important to note that the plot of the story equally gives a highlight of the high expectations the society places upon the mothers. The story also highlights how men tend to underestimate the magnanimity of a woman's role of as a mother (Gail, pgs 3). It is however important to understand that, men may not be at fault since they do not experience pregnancy, labor and other difficultiues women experience during childbirth hence may fail to appreciate the demands of motherhood. In the many places, women do bear the responsibility of motherhood without proper support from their male counterparts.
In conclusion, it is important to note that "Sorrowful Woman" is a story a story about a woman feeling caught up in a repressive marriage and life due to the societal demands at that time. Generally, the Sorrowful Woman by Gail Godwin's illustrates the gradual withdrawal of the sorrowful woman from her son, husband, the world and her home (Gail, pgs 3). The story captures the inability of the sorrowful woman to cope with the various choices at her disposal and the dissatisfaction that characterize her life. The story highlights the consistency of the feelings and in the process presenting an insight in the Godwin's protagonist.