In "A New England Nun"

In "A New England Nun", Mary E. Wilkins Freeman depicts the
life of the classic New England spinster. The image of a spinster
is of an old maid; a woman never married waiting for a man. The
woman waiting to be married is restricted in her life. She does
chores and receives education to make her more desirable as a
This leads to the allegories used in this short story. The
protagonist life paralleled both of her pets\' lives, her dog
Caesar\'s and that of her little yellow canary. Both comparisons
are of restriction and fear of freedom. The animals and the woman
of this story are irreversible tamed by their captivity, and no
longer crave freedom. Ideas of sin guilt and atonement are also
present between the woman and the dog. These images typify
nineteenth century beliefs of women and their place in society.
This story of Louisa Ellis is an allegory for woman, and uses the
levels of allegory ironically. The stories of the dog and the
bird layer the theme to help represent Louisa\'s life, who in turn
represents the Eighteenth century woman of society. Louisa\'s
animals and their relationship to her suitor are further links
between her and her pets. The suitor brings out different traits
than the norm in both the animals and the woman of this story.
The man\'s influence is seen as disruptive. Man is seen as a
threat to the serenity and security of a spinster\'s life.
Imagery put forth by this story, and by stereotypes of the
day is of the new England spinster. Women who were not married
yet, lived a life of chores and piousness. They learned their
domestic chores and other things that would make them presentable
as a wife. They did gardening work, read literature, mended
clothing and the sort. These women were dependent on men to come
and take them, to change their lives. Those who were not chosen
were called old maids or spinsters. They typically were wealthy
enough not work, so they lived a singular existence at their
homes. Their homes became prisons. Leaving the home was possible
but there was nothing out of their home environment, so they were
left with no other choice but to lead their domestic life. The
routine of their domestic chores became a part of their essence
leading to the almost manic neatness of Louisa\'s home.
Louisa was upset by Joe Dagget when he disturbs her
autograph book and her gift book. She has a specific placement of
the books. Joe transposes the order when he finished looking at
them. This annoys her greatly, so she returns the books to their
original order as if was compulsive. The order of her house like
the structure of her life gave Louisa a sense of security. She
becomes nervous if not angry when Joe later knocks over her work
basket. The order of her house is so compulsively exact that she
feels the need to remove his tracks from the rug.
Joe Dagget and Louisa Ellis were engaged for over fourteen
years. He went to Australia to make his fortune, while Louisa
waited patiently for Joe\'s return. While Joe was away her mother
and brother both died leaving her alone. She became used to
solitude and even grew fond of it. When Joe returned he disturbed
her life, just as he disturbed her work basket.
Louisa\'s dog Caesar was chained up in the yard. He lived a
lonely existence with only his dog house and a couple feet of
chain in his world. Caesar was a prisoner of his home as Louisa
was a prisoner to her\'s. The dog became accustomed to solitude
and would not know any other way of existence. Joe came back
after fourteen years to take Louisa away from her prison, but
also would have freed the dog. Joe said " . . . and it\'s down-
right cruel to keep him tied up there. Someday I\'m going to take
him out." Louisa objects to this fearing the animal nature of the
dog that had laid dormantly for fourteen years.
Around the same time as Louisa and Joe became engaged,
Caesar bit one of the Ellis\'s neighbors. He