The stories we have read depict the lives of women around the country as the 19th century came to an end and the 20th century began. Each demonstrates the literary style of realism, and Chopin, Glaspell, and Freeman also firmly place their stories in the regions where they grew up.

In addition to their style, the four stories address some common topics:

  • Rebellion
  • Self-Assertion
  • Defying Tradition
  • Repression of Women-

To list those topics is the first part of identifying a theme. Next we must phrase a sentence expressing what the story teaches about the topic. For example, if my topic was jealousy, I might say a story had the theme “The main character’s actions demonstrate that jealousy is like a cancer that destroys a person from the inside.”


  • Select two of the fictional texts you have read in this unit for your theme analysis.
    • Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” here,
    • Kate Chopin, Read The Awakening here
    • Susan Glaspell, Read the text of Trifles here
    • Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, “The Revolt of Mother” here.
  • Select one of the topics listed above and craft a theme statement that is supported by the two stories you selected.
    • Rebellion
    • Self-Assertion
    • Defying Tradition
    • Repression of Women-
  • Identify quotations and events within the stories that support your theme statement.
  • Compose a 4-page essay analyzing the texts and proving your theme.


For help in structuring your essay, follow these links:



Download the handout “Literary Analysis Outline” for further help. As you introduce quotations or paraphrase events in the stories, keep in mind the activity on “Interpreting Quotations” from when you read The Crucible. Every example should be introduced and explained. Just remember: ICE

  • Identify: who is speaking? when did the event take place in the story?
  • Cite: give the quotation or paraphrase the event.
  • Explain: tell your reader why this example is important and how it relates to the overall idea of your essay
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