A Sorrowful Woman: Fairy-Tale Story

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Kate Mahoney
“A Sorrowful Woman”
Gail Godwin’s “A Sorrowful Woman” is a fairy-tale story gone wrong centered on her perception of marriage and motherhood. The plot illustrates the manner in which a woman slowly withdrawals from her husband and son, her home, and the world. Godwin’s sad and depressed female protagonist feels burdened by the demands of her family even through her husband and child are nothing but loving and loyal. As we continue to read about the daily doings of this woman, we find that she gradually shuts them completely out of her life. Unsatisfied with her role as a dutiful mother and wife, she “tried these personalities on like costumes, then discarded them.” With this story, all ends “unhappily ever after.”

Fictional characters are an essential component to a story, but yet in this short story, we are left knowing little to nothing about these characters. This presents the reader with a broader aspect into the work itself. Godwin demonstrates a universal situation in which many people could become the characters of, which may or may not be the motive behind the lack of names. The story expresses a sense of detachment from the world at large, inability to deal with too many choices, and the dissatisfaction with the traditional roles of marriage; something that any given person may be faced with.

Overall, this story succeeds in capturing the emotions that run throughout this couple’s distant marriage and presents a good insight into Godwin’s outlook on marriages. This beautifully written short story is a sad yet intriguing read that begs the question if whether or not marriage should be apart of everyone’s identity.
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