Literary Analyses

“Désirée’s Baby” by Kate Chopin: Motherhood and Miscegenation in 19th-Century America

This analysis of “Désirée’s Baby,” an 1893 short story by Kate Chopin, explores the narrative of miscegenation and motherhood in the antebellum American South. Chopin is best known for the groundbreaking classic novella The Awakening (1899).

Désirée, a young woman adopted as a child, is married to a plantation owner named Armaud. She is startled when she suddenly realizes that their baby is of a darker complexion than her own and her husband’s.

Chopin uses the setting of Louisiana to create a delicate yet hostile environment for a disillusioned young mother. Motherhood in this era can be deemed sensitive and complicated, since Désirée lives in a time when its treatment is based on ethnicity and social stratification. Read More→

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The Poetry of Gabriela Mistral: A Brief Overview and Analysis

Gabriela Mistral (Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, 1889 – 1957), the Chilean poet, educator, diplomat, and feminist was the first Latin American to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Here, we’ll take a concise look at the poetry of Gabriela Mistral — an overview of her published works and analysis of major themes.

She was cited “for her lyric poetry which, inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world.”

Born in Vicuña, Chile, Mistral had a lifelong passion for eduction and gained a reputation as the nation’s “national schoolteacher-mother.” That she hasn’t retained a literary stature comparable to her countryman, Pablo Neruda, is surprising, given her Nobel Prize and many other achievements and accolades. Read More→

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Virginia Woolf’s Analysis of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights

Before she became known for her own novels, Virginia Woolf was a literary critic. It’s fascinating to read her analysis of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, the enduring novels of Charlotte and Emily Brontë.

This dual analysis of Charlotte and Emily’s masterpieces was first published in part in The Times Literary Supplement on April 13, 1916, around the time of Charlotte’s centenary, then appeared again in 1917 and 1922.

The following essay by Virginia Woolf is in the public domain. The text is intact, though Woolf’s long paragraphs are broken up for improved readability, and headings have been added for the same purpose.

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Madeleine B. Stern’s Brilliant Analysis of Little Women

Louisa May Alcott: A Biography by Madeleine B. Stern (1999) is considered the definitive biography of the famous author of Little Women (1868). Presented here is Stern’s brilliant analysis of Little Women.

Tracing the life of Louisa May Alcott (1832 – 1888) the writer, Stern gives penetrating insight not only into Alcott’s life, but her very essence as a writer.

As a writer myself, I have found much wisdom in these pages and have marveled at Alcott’s ability to “simmer a story” in her head while fulfilling duties around the house, and then later sitting down to spill it out on paper to submit without editing.

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Drinking from the Spring: On Rereading Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

The last day of October marks Samhain, the end of harvest season and the beginning of winter. This Gaelic festival opens the door to the darker part of the year, and it’s also the anniversary of author Natalie Babbitt’s death in 2016. What better time to consider Babbitt’s remarkable novel about mortality, Tuck Everlasting (1975), a story that rewards young and adult readers alike.

When I first reread Tuck, I was in my thirties. It was never one of my school texts: when I was a girl, it hadn’t yet achieved its iconic status. But the timing for me to rediscover this story, about how “dying’s part of the wheel, right there next to being born” was perfect. Read More→

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