During the 19th century many writers began to publish works with sentimental plots. Generally the sentimental plot is written to make the reader feel an excess of unnecessary emotions, by overemphasizing every work. In every sentimental plot there will always be the typical sentimental hereon that fits the stereotype of a young orphan, unmarried women with moral obstacles. In this plot there are only two types of women the ones that are considered good and the ones that are bad.
In the sentimental plot the good will get rewarded by marrying a decent man and the bad will always die. Even though this plot was very popular among writers many women were not happy with how the women were being portrayed among men writers so they decided to go against this plot. With women writers some would tend to go against the sentimental romance plot and instead write about actual situations that were happening around them. One example of this would be in Kate Chopin’s story “The Storm” it featured a married women falling into the seductions of a old flame.
Do you remember in Assumption, Calixta? He asked in a low voice broken by passion. Oh! She remembered; for in Assumption he had kissed her and kissed and kissed her; until his senses would well nigh fail, and to save her he would resort to a desperate flight. If she was not an immaculate dove in those days, she was still inviolate; a passionate creature whose very defenselessness had made her defense, against which his honor forbade him to prevail. ” Pg. 59 Author Kate Chopin was unable to publish her works because of the featured adultery with no follow up punishment, in order for her to successfully publish she would have to follow the sentimental romance plot and kill Calixta in the end to prove that the decisions she made were wrong and had consequences.
Mary E. Wilkins in “The Revolt of Mother” is another example that goes against the grain of the sentimental plot it deals with a mother that confronts her husband and goes against his say so which in the 19th century was something that was frowned upon. Now father, said she you needn’t be scared. I ain’t crazy. There ain’t nothing to be upset over. But we’ve come here to live, an’ we’re goin’ to live here. We’ve got jest as good as right here as new horses mind I wa’nt fit for us to live in any longer, an I made up my mind I wa’n’t going’ to stay there. I’ve done my duty by you for forty year, an’ I’m goin’ to do it now; but I’m going to live here. ”
Pg. 672 After this story was published many people thought that it was based on a true story but Mary E. Wilkins explained that no New England women would ever dare confront her husband it was all just a fantasy. Another example of the reversed sentimental plot would be in Charlotte Perkins Gilman story “The Yellow Wall-paper” It is based on a women who is said to be having nervous breakdowns and is being taken care of by her husband a physician she later comes to relies that she will no longer be trapped or hide her emotions. “I’ve got out at last. Said I, in spite of you and Jane! And I’ve pulled off most off the paper, so you can’t put me back! ” pg 803.
What all of these story’s have in common is that they tried to convey across the situations that the women were in and all of them one way or another expressed how the women felt trapped by the men. When it came to men writers they would always include a sentimental hereon in their stories. Henry James published “Daisy Miller” in 1978 and it dealt with a young unmarried woman somewhat considered an orphan because her parents were never around, who was seen in society as an outcast cause of the way she would conduct herself around men.
Miss Daisy Miller was a flirt – a pretty American flirt. He had never, as yet, had any relations with young ladies of this category. He had known, her in Europe” pg. 427 since Daisy Miller was portrayed as an uneducated flirt Henry James followed the sentimental plot by giving Daisy a terrible case of the fever and later died. Later after the story was published Henry James stated that he believed that Daisy was innocent and that he did not kill her to state a point, it just so happened that she caught fever.
So in some sort of way this story can sometimes be said that it was not your typical sentimental plot. Another male writer that followed the sentimental hereon was William Dean Howells “Editha” this was about a young unmarried woman who practically forces her boyfriend to enter the war in order to show off in front of others. “I shall always love you, and therefore I shall never marry any one else. But the man I marry must love his country first of all, and be able to say to me, I could not love thee, dear, so much, loved I not honor more.
In these two story’s It seems to me as if the men writers are trying to put women down by making them seem selfish and not following the norm of obeying the men’s commands or ways of lifestyle that they want them to follow. In all of these stories we can see that there is a big difference in how men and women respond to the sentimental romance plot. The women write about there own personal experiences and the things that they see happen around them and the men write about what they want the people to read for example the good will get a great husband and get married and the bad will get punished and die.
Courtney from Study Moose
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