A Sorrowful Woman
Precious J Head
July 15 2012
Critical Analysis of “A Sorrowful Woman”
I have chosen to do my critical analysis about Gail Goodwin’s short story of “A Sorrowful Woman”. Throughout this paper I will attempt to breakdown and explain the plot of this story, how the story unfolds from the point of view of Goodwin’s unnamed wife, and the development of the husband’s character as the story is told.
From what I can gather from the story as I read through it; the plot is about the gradual progression of the unnamed spouse and mother’s deteriorating emotional well-being. In the story the wife’s life generally revolves around her family and eventually becomes over-whelmed. Gail Goodman’s wife then starts to withdraw from her family until they are completely shut out of her life. Although the wife in the story does have a child it is highly unlikely that the wife would be suffering from any post-partum stress associated with child birth; as the child in the story during the events is already a toddler. Gail Goodman’s wife is unhappy with her current role as a housewife and seeks to explore different roles, but has a hard time coping when faced with making more engaging decisions when they are presented to her. In the story the wife is the protagonist, and the antagonist in some ways can be described as her family, because they are the source of her frustrations. As the story develops rather than recovering, the wife tends to progressively get worse; regardless of any efforts by her husband to help her. With all the events that unfold in the story it becomes easy to see that the wife’s actions is a clear dissatisfaction of her role and a willingness to fulfill her duties. Towards the end of the story it Head 2
would appear that the wife has recovered from her illness, but instead the opposite remains true; as she prefers to have no interaction with anyone in her family. Just as important as the plot to understanding the story of “A Sorrowful Woman” is the point of view of the wife.
The wife’s point of view in the story is instrumental, because it is through the wife that the author is trying to reach and influence the emotions of the audience. In the opening paragraphs of the story Gail Goodman’s portrayal of the family is that of an ideal family in the time of which the story takes place. Once the author finishes setting the story the reader is then allowed to enter the story through the point of view of the wife. Through the wife view the reader sees a woman who loves, cares, and provides for her family in the role of a traditional house wife. In the story the wife life is very structured and basically repeats itself day after day. One night while washing the dishing; while the husband is asleep watching t.v. in the living room after dinner; as usual the wife loses it. Through the wife point of view the audience is initially led to feel sorry her, because it is obvious that she has become over- whelmed with her responsibilities; evidenced by her uncontrollable weeping and irritability to her son. Eventually the husband has to hire help to take care of his son while his mother recovers from her illness. I believe that the wife feels threatened by the nanny and has her relieved. Although Gail Goodman’s wife is unable to be the mother she needs to, she does not want anyone else taking that role either. The wife point of view of the world is a difficult has she has trouble to even express her freedom in writing a poem that has no restrictions or rules; this is a clear indication of how trapped the wife had felt with her previous duties. The point of view of the wife is ideal to understanding not only herself, but the development of the husband’s character as the story progresses.
The development of the husband in Gail Goodman’s” A Sorrowful Woman” is a very interesting one. In the opening sentences in the book it appears that the husband is as any other husband in the...