Gail Godwin's A Sorrowful Woman

            "A Sorrowful Woman” is a selection written by Gail Godwin. Within this selection she shows how a marriage does not always lead to a perfect life. Godwin uses "A Sorrowful Woman” to portray modern marriages. "A Sorrowful Woman” is a parody of fairy tales. The traditional fairy tale has a fixed resolution- everyone lives happily ever after. At the beginning of "A Sorrowful Woman” the reader is given the illusion of a happy story because it begins "Once upon a Time” (Godwin 33). In this story the ideal of a traditional fairy tale is mocked.

             The characters in this selection are not given names (Godwin 33); this signifies that the characters are playing a universal role. The epigraph at the beginning of story suggests that she was not meant to be a wife and a mother (Godwin 33). The reason for this conclusion is because once upon a time implies that she thought her life as a wife and mother would be perfect. The sorrowful woman hit her child on purpose so that her husband would see it (Godwin 34). In a fairy tale the mother would be happy to spend time with her family. Godwin makes fun of fairy tales by having the characters do all the opposite things of characters in a fairy tale. When the sight of her family made her so gloomy and sick that she never wanted to see them again (Godwin 33). There was nothing that would relieve the sorrowful woman of her depression. Her husband gives her a sleeping drought that further depresses her, instead of revitalizing her (Godwin 35). He seemed to be eager to do whatever he could to please his wife because he thought that would make her happy. In "A Sorrowful Woman” the wife dies instead of living happily ever after, which is quite the opposite of "The Sleeping Beauty (Godwin 37).”.

             The sorrowful woman detests the fact that she has a husband and a child to tie her down. She wishes for the life of a single woman. Instead of being happy with the fact that she has a helper to take care of her house and her family she becomes jealous (Godwin 36).

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