Symbolism in "A New England Nun"
The main character, Louisa Ellis, lived a life which paralleled both of her pets' lives, her dog Caesar's and her yellow canary. The animals and Louisa are trapped by their captivity, and because they have lived like this for so long, no longer crave freedom. Both Louisa and Caesar live solemn and isolated lives. This is shown when Freeman describes Caesars house as "half hidden among the tall grasses and flowers" (258). Given the setting of where Louisa lives, she is fairly isolated as well. There is only a little road running through "the quiet and unguarded village" (265) which she lives in. Because it is quiet, one can make the conclusion that there is little interactions between the townspeople and Louisa. They fear her dog, for it has bitten once when he was a puppy, and tend to stay away. Freeman does a good job in portraying the solitude among the characters. By showing their day-to-day routine and the setting of the houses and town, it is clear that Louisa is isolated and Caesar is hidden from society.
The location of the home of Louisa and Caesar's dog house is not the only way Freeman depicts isolation in the story. Louisa's dog Caesar, who Freeman compares to a hermit, was chained up in the yard. He lived a lonely existence with only his dog house and a couple feet of chain to restrain him. The dog became accustomed to solitude and seemed quite content. Her little yellow canary is also constrained to his cage. Comparable to the dog, the bird is usually found "turned into a peaceful yellow ball night after night", which could mean that it feels at ease in its tiny cage. Caesar was a prisoner of his home, and the canary is prisoner to his cage, similar to how Louisa was a prisoner to her house. Her fiancée, Joe, was in Australia for fourteen years. She waited fourteen years, perhaps out of guilt and a sense of obligation to her "first lover." Because of this, she became accustomed to being alone in her house without a man in her life and seems to be happy when Joe leaves at the end of the story.
It could be concluded that Freeman intends Louisa to be a woman dominated by a strong spoken man, however, in...