Does Louisa believe she is better than others in "A New England Nun"?

In "A New England Nun," Louisa Ellis does not believe that she is better than others, but some townspeople have formed that opinion of her. She is very self-sufficient, which others may interpret as indicating that she is anti-social and has a superior attitude.

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A New England Nun ” tells the story of a woman who retreats into a private world for fifteen years while she is waiting for her fiancé, Joseph Dagget, to return. During that period, Louisa Ellis went from sharing her life with her mother and brother to living alone...

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A New England Nun” tells the story of a woman who retreats into a private world for fifteen years while she is waiting for her fiancé, Joseph Dagget, to return. During that period, Louisa Ellis went from sharing her life with her mother and brother to living alone in what had been her parents’ house. Louisa is very particular in her habits and takes good care of her possessions. She rarely socializes with other people in her town. The fact that she keeps to herself so much is sometimes interpreted as her thinking that she is better than the rest. However, the narrator does not present any indication of that feeling on Louisa’s part.

One thing that Louisa enjoys is eating her meals on china. The narrator indicates that her neighbors typically eat from “common crockery,” keeping the china packed away, so they “whispered” about her habit, noting that “she was no richer nor better bred than they.” The implication is that they think she is demonstrating an attitude of feeling “better bred.”

During the years that Louisa was waiting for Joe’s return from making his fortune in Australia, she had lost her mother and her brother. Living alone had created numerous habits that suited her peaceful, slow character. The narrator explains that her habitual actions had turned into a smooth path that she would follow until her death and that this path was “so narrow that there was no room for any one at her side.” When she realizes that Joe has fallen in love with someone else, she is not resentful but glad to have a reason to release him from the engagement. “Serenity and placid narrowness had become to her as the birthright itself.” Solitude will continue to be her way of life.

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