The Wives of the Dead

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Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote many short stories in his time. He was very complex with his writing style. He makes good use of many literary techniques in all of his stories, but they do not always stand out. One may have to look deep into the use of his literary techniques to comprehend the story. Hawthorne effectively uses irony, conflict and imagery in “The Wives of the Dead” to create the mood of suspense surrounding the fate of the husbands.

The story begins with two wives that are sisters learning that each of their husbands have been killed in the “line of duty” within two days of each other. The mood of suspense is created early on in the story with the use of conflict. The sisters having just learned of their husbands deaths create a sense of inner conflict and they are dealing with mourning. There could be no greater inner conflict than mourning especially, with two deaths so close together and within the same household. The sisters want to be left alone to mourn. One may wonder about the state of mind the sisters are in. This adds to the suspense in wondering if the sisters are in good stable mindsets.

Hawthorne brings conflict back to the story a couple of more times when the sisters learn that their husbands are alive. The first example is the innkeeper Mr. Parker leaves, after bringing the news about Margaret’s husband being alive. The sister is unsure whether to wake the other sister with her good news. Hawthorne writes “"Poor Mary!" said she to herself.”Shall I waken her, to feel her sorrow sharpened by my happiness? No; I will keep it within my own bosom till the morrow." (paragraph 15). This shows great inner conflict with Margaret and the suspense builds as one could wonder what will happen in the morning. Then as the story progresses the other sister Mary is visited in the same way. Hawthorne writes “"My poor sister! you will waken too soon from that happy dream," thought Mary.” (paragraph 27). The two sisters are very afraid they...
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