Place and setting in the work of Sarah Orne Jewett

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rebecca Wall Nail (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Robert Stephens

Abstract: Although Sarah Orne Jewett's active career extended over thirty-four years, studies of her work have tended to ignore its chronological development, and in spite of the admitted importance of her settings relatively little attention has been given to their nature and function in her sketches. Her own comments make it obvious that she habitually worked from setting and character toward incident, and many of her remarks imply that setting suggested character as well. Since Jewett's native region has long been recognized as a major influence on her work, it is not surprising that she considered the places writers knew a major formative influence, and setting for her was an essential matrix generating both writer and story. Thus Jewett agreed with Eudora Welty's suggestion that place is basic to the validity, emotion, and perspective of fiction. Her relationship to her native Berwick, Maine, however, was less serene than many critics have realized, and to this emotional ambivalence must be added the ambiguity inherent in the relationship of real people to real places and of literary characters to their settings. This study demonstrates that Jewett's attitudes and emotions toward her settings are complicated, and the settings themselves are varied and complex. The places she depicts express and interact with her themes, provide a major source of interest in her stories, and supply clues, as they change, to her overall intellectual and emotional development.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1980
Jewett, Sarah Orne, $d 1849-1909 $x Criticism and interpretation
Jewett, Sarah Orne, $d 1849-1909 $x Settings

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