The Chrysanthemums Essay

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Bily is an instructor of English at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan. In the following essay she explores connections between "The Chrysanthemums" and ecofeminism.

The many critics who have debated for decades over the reason for Elisa Allen's frustrations in "The Chrysanthemums" have focused on two ideas: that Elisa is oppressed, either by a male-dominated society or by a practical-minded one, and that her flowers are for her some sort of compensation for what is missing in her life. The chrysanthemums have been interpreted as symbols of Elisa's sexuality, or childlessness, or artistic sensibility, and all of these connections make sense when looking at Elisa's connections to her husband or to society. It is also possible, I believe, and useful, to look at the flowers as literal flowers, as signs of Elisa's connection with the natural world.

Since the rekindling of the feminist movement in the 1960s and...

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This section contains 1,590 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Chrysanthemums Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
The Chrysanthemums from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.