Need a happy-ish poem or short story to compare...I have to write a comparative paper which analyzes two to three literary works from the course readings which share a common theme. I have already...

Need a happy-ish poem or short story to compare...

I have to write a comparative paper which analyzes two to three literary works from the course readings which share a common theme.

I have already chosen "The story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin and "Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James Thurber. Both deals with a submissive/obedient type of person in the relationship who is unhappy. I was trying to find a poem or a short story where there was a submissive/obedient person who is happy with the way they live their life. It has to be credible. Does anyone know of one? All the searches I came up with was for uncredible work. Thank you.

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Well, I know you specifically said a poem or a short story, ... but would a play do?  I've got a perfect one!  How about The Taming of the Shrew, by William Shakespeare?!?  By the end of the play, Katherina becomes submissive, obedient, and happy after being married to Petruchio.  (Although I am of the persuasion that it is Katherina who actually tamed Petruchio, the submission and obedience factors still hold true.)  If you need a quick refresher on the play, try watching Kiss Me Kate or even the episode of the 80s show Moonlighting that deals with The Taming of the Shrew.

If you insist on a poem or short story, ... how about Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How Do I love thee? Let me count the ways": a refrain of the obedient and submissive (obsessive?) lover.  Another idea would be one of Shakepeare's sonnets that focus primarily about love.  How about Sonnet 18 ("Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day") or  Sonnet 116 ("Let me not to the marriage of true minds / Admit impediments")?  There's also Sonnet 130 ("My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun") that proclaims that even though the lover may not be pretty, she is still obedient and happy. Leaving aside that these love sonnets may have been written to a man (ha!), if you research the general Elizabethan thoughts about love and consider that Shakespeare may have thought the same, you could make a case that the lover here is, in fact, submissive and obedient.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

What about "Lamb to the Slaughter," by Roald Dahl?

In that story, Mary Maloney was happy being a submissive wife.  We see that she's completely content with her life up until the time her husband says he's leaving.  When he does say he's leaving, we see that Mary hasn't been beaten down by her previous life the way the characters in those stories you mention have.  She's retained enough of a sense of herself to kill her husband and get away with it.

So, I don't know if that works for you, but I'd say that she's happy being submissive and is, without a doubt, different from Walter Mitty and Louise Mallard.

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angelalinnae | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Thanks guys for the idea's. Unfortunately, the teacher did not want me to dissect the stories and write about that. Apparently she just wants a paper about the general representation of gender roles and marriage using those stories.

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angelalinnae | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

What about "Lamb to the Slaughter," by Roald Dahl?

In that story, Mary Maloney was happy being a submissive wife.  We see that she's completely content with her life up until the time her husband says he's leaving.  When he does say he's leaving, we see that Mary hasn't been beaten down by her previous life the way the characters in those stories you mention have.  She's retained enough of a sense of herself to kill her husband and get away with it.

So, I don't know if that works for you, but I'd say that she's happy being submissive and is, without a doubt, different from Walter Mitty and Louise Mallard.

Thanks for the suggestion. I will definitely look into it.

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