By Leah Blatt Glasser
The 1st literary biography of a much-neglected American author, this publication explores the a number of tensions on the middle of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman's lifestyles and paintings. A prolific brief tale author and novelist, Freeman (1852-1930) constructed a name as an area colorist who depicted the peculiarities of her local New England. but as Leah Blatt Glasser indicates, Freeman was once one of many first American authors to jot down broadly in regards to the relationships girls shape outdoors of marriage and motherhood, the position of labor in women's lives, the complexity of women's sexuality, and the inner lives of ladies who insurgent instead of comply with patriarchal strictures.
In a Closet Hidden strains Freeman's evolution as a author, displaying how her personal internal conflicts again and again came across expression in her artwork. As Glasser demonstrates, Freeman's paintings tested the competing claims of creativity and conference, self-fulfillment and self-sacrifice, spinsterhood and marriage, lesbianism and heterosexuality.
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Extra resources for In a closet hidden: the life and work of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
In "Old Woman Magoun," Freeman creates a visualization of gender division in her time, providing an analysis of the complexities she faced when she was expected to move beyond childhood into young womanhood. "25 On the other side of the river, Nelson Barry presides, the man who made Lily's mother pregnant at sixteen and then deserted her; Barry, Lily's natural father, plays cards, drinks, and converses with other men in his Page 12 "favorite haunt," the grocery store which the women must frequent for necessary goods.
Although Magoun attempts to argue, language is not a tool that works in Barry's world. It only has value on Magoun's side of the river, among women. As Barry states, "there is no use talking. I have made up my mind . . and you know what that means. I am going to have the girl" (260). It becomes clear, in fact, that Barry's statement is an insistence upon the sexual objectification of the young woman. She will become his commodity, now that she has attracted Jim, a way of paying back a debt from card-playing.
In some of her work, the voice is defiant, unwilling to submit. In other works, we hear passive acceptance and internalization of oppressive standards for wives and daughters. In her most interesting though most uneven fiction, she pits one voice against another, creating then a dialogue between opposing selves, and in a very modern sense, ending with inevitable ambiguity. The psychology of self-division became the subject at the heart of almost all of her work. Freeman provides then a graphic example of the ambivalence shared by so many nineteenth-century women, caught between conflicting needs for acceptability and self-fulfillment.