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Theme Comparison of 'The Street', 'A Rose For Emily' & 'A Story Of An Hour'

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1464 words Published: 10th Aug 2021

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The process of evaluating and interpreting literature is to understand what type of philosophy it presents and to compare our own values with the text. Since literature has the tendency to enlighten and entertain, the text draws the readers’ into its artistic world. In addition, certain factors in literature affect the readers’ theory about the reading, such as the character, the setting, or the theme. Evaluation and interpretation are essential tools, which are constructive aspects in the literary connection process. More importantly, these viewpoints “help us to think critically about the text details and dialect” (DiYanni, 2007 p. 7). According to Octavio Paz’s “The Street”, William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”, and Kate Chopin’s “A Story of an Hour”, isolation was the common theme within their stories. Moreover, these literary works consist of lonely feelings in the major characters’ within their text. For example, the theme for these three literary works depicts lonely thoughts and isolated settings. The following characterizations are based on comparing literary works: observing and interpreting. Although there are themes that are mutual in various literary works, this essay will compare the themes of one poem and two short stories.

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Observing and comparing literature is a beneficial process to explore the similarities of stories. For instance, the poem “The Street” has a similar thematic idea of loneliness, to the following two short stories, “A Rose for Emily” and “A Story for an Hour”. In “The Street”, the poet describes a feeling of a person’s journey down a dark street. The passage, “Everything dark and doorless, only my steps aware of me” (DiYanni, 2007), illustrates that the atmosphere was gloomy and lack privacy. Since it is not clear why this character was alone in the street, some thoughts/questions did come to mind. Was this person homeless? Was this person mentally challenged or did this person just in need of alone time? Moreover, an illustrative phrase in this poem somewhat described the character’s frame of mind. For instance, “if I run, he runs, I turn: nobody”, (DiYanni, 2007). A general assumption of the preceding phrase would be that someone was actually following this person or it was just his or her shadow. In general, the character’s role in “The Street” encountered an emotive stroll down a long and still street, which is a clear illustration of solitude.

Similar to the solitude theme of “The Street”, the concept of loneliness and isolation emerged in the short story, “A Rose for Emily” as an expressive description of Emily’s life after death of her father and lover. The writer expresses how Emily’s attitude transformed physically and emotionally. Emily, the major character, experienced isolation after the death of her father. For instance, the author’s language in the short story suggested that after her father’s death, Emily did not care to interact with other people in the community. Emily decided to live in her only little world. DiYanni (2007) state that “After her father’s death she went out very little…people hardly saw her at all” (p. 80).

Accordingly, isolation was Emily’s innermost mind-set, which was her way of coping with calamity. In comparison with character in “The Street”, the thought of being mentally challenge or insane came to mind when Emily wanted to buy a toxic item from the pharmacist. Since Emily never mentioned why she needed the poison, her actions did trigger a curious question. What was Emily planning to do with such a deadly element? Ideally, living a lonely and isolated life was the cause of Emily’s peculiar actions.

Another story that shares the solitude theme as in the short poem “The Street” is “A Story of an Hour”. The writer tells a story about a woman who isolated herself from her family after hearing the news that her husband has died in a train accident. Ms. Mallard, the main character, did express her emotions after the news of her husband’s death. Hence, Ms. Mallard’s reaction to the report caused a feeling of isolation-similar to “The Street” and “A Rose for Emily” character, a solitary event. After Ms. Mallard breaks down and cries, she goes to her room alone. DiYanni (2007) notes that “When [her weeping was over,] she went away to her room alone. She would not have no one follow her” (p.38).Overall, the main idea the writers of these three literary works was about similar concepts of solitude.

“The Street,” “A Rose for Emily,” “A Story of an Hour” Differences

Another method for comparing these three literary works is to detect their theme differences. The first noticeable distinction that did stand out among all three literary works, were the character’s gender. The major characters in “A Rose for Emily” and “A Story of an Hour” are women; however, the major/solo character in “The Street” has a perception of a man. Although the author of “The Street” made no clear reference of the name of the main character walking alone in the street, the writers of “A Rose for Emily” and “The story of an Hour,” Emily and Mrs. Mallard were the names of main characters who shared a period of calamity in their life.

An additional diverse issue between these three stories is the theme’s focal point. For instance, the focal point for “The Street” appears to about the lonely mood or frame of mind the character was experiencing. DiYanni (2007) illustrates, “Here is a long and silent street….I turning and turning among these corners which lead forever to the street” (p. 1052). The poet’s use of this symbolic phrase defines the mood and the meaning of the character being alone in the poem.

In contrast to the theme of “The Street”, the theme in “A Rose for Emily” emphasizes emotional and physical isolation from the community because of the death of Emily’s father. There were times when neighbors in the community would get a quick glimpse of Emily through the window of her house. Moreover, “…for almost six months [Emily] did not appear on the streets”. (p.83). In other words, the writer’s attempt was to develop one main idea in this story-isolation from society.

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Furthermore, however, the lonely theme in “The Street” did differ from the solitude theme in “The Story for an Hour” as well. After the death of Mrs. Mallard’s husband, during her darkest hour, her isolation was about freedom and on feelings about letting go of the past. While Mrs. Mallard is in her bedroom, isolated from her family, she stares out her window and thinks about being free from her marriage. According to the following phrase, “…as she was drinking in a [sweet substance] of life through [her] open window, [she whispered], Free! Body and soul free!” (p. 40). In other words, the writer’s main idea was about an hour of isolation from family and the thought of being free from an unhappy marriage.

Last of all, the ending of these literary works are quite different as well. The character in “The Street” remains in the street alone with no suggestion of a specific destination. As (DiYanni, 2007) points out, “Poems stimulate our imaginations” (p. 6). Therefore, the author- leading the outcome as a cliffhanger, provokes the readers to guess what happens next. Unlike the characters in “A Rose for Emily” and “The Story of an Hour”, the destination of the main character actually ends in death. Overall, the main concept of these three literary works was about the different way each character reacts to loneliness.

In conclusion, although this poem and two short stories are about loneliness, the writers’ approach the topic in very different ways. Since the common theme in “The Street”, “A Rose for Emily”, and “The Story for an Hour” involves a feeling of loneliness, the concept of being alone can have a diverse outcome. In other words, in comparing these three themes, the isolated reaction of these characters derived from specific issues, such as sickness or death. Moreover, “to characterize the relationship of [literary works,the cause leading to effect [and] external event triggering [the] internal response” (DiYanni, 2007, p. 7), should help compare the similarities and differences of each theme.

On a final note, the most interesting idea among the three preceding literary works was how the author expressed the characters emotions through their thoughts and actions. Since the common theme for Octavio Paz’s “The Street”, William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”, and Kate Chopin’s “A Story of an Hour”, includes solitude within their storyline, they all produced a specific level of emotion, which allow the readers’ to observe and compare the effect of the isolation for each story.


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