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Dive deep into William Dean Howells’ Editha with extended analysis, commentary, and discussion. Editha has ratings and 33 reviews. Grace the Book Queen said: I did not like this story. I get what it’s trying to say and what it’s trying to do, bu. “Editha” is essentially about a women, named Editha, who attempts to pressure her It was not uncommon for William Dean Howells to express his opinions on .

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Between the Dark and the Daylight New York: Harper and Brothers, The story was first published in Harper’s Monthly Jan. T he air was thick with the war feeling, like the electricity of a storm which had not yet burst.

Editha sat looking out into the hot spring afternoon, with her lips parted, and panting with the intensity of the question whether she could let him go.

She had decided that she could not let him stay, when she saw him at the end of the still leafless avenue, making slowly up towards the house, with his head down and his figure relaxed. She ran impatiently out on the veranda, to the edge of the steps, and imperatively demanded greater haste of him with her will before she called him aloud to him: He had quickened his pace in mystical response to her mystical urgence, before he could have heard edigha now he looked up and answered, “Well? She kissed him back intensely, but irrelevantly, as to their passion, and uttered from deep in her throat.

She never knew what to think of him; that made his mystery, his charm. All through their courtship, which was contemporaneous with the growth of the war feeling, she had been puzzled by his want of seriousness about it. He seemed to despise it even more than he abhorred it. She could bowells understood his abhorring any sort of bloodshed; that would have been a survival of his old life when he thought he would be a minister, and before he changed and took up the law.

But making light of a cause so high and noble seemed to show a want of earnestness at the core of his being. Not but that she felt herself able to cope with a congenital defect of that sort, and make his love for her save him from himself.

Now perhaps the miracle editah already wrought in him. In the presence of the tremendous fact that he announced, all triviality seemed to have gone out of him; she began to feel that.

William Dean Howells’ “Editha,” Richard Lovelace, and Shakespeare

He sank down on the top step, and wiped his forehead with his handkerchief, while she poured out upon him her question of the howelld and authenticity of his news. All the while, in her duplex emotioning, she was aware that now at the very beginning she must put a guard upon herself against urging him, by any word or act, to take the part that her whole soul willed hiwells to take, for the completion of her ideal of him. He was very nearly perfect as he was, and he must be allowed to perfect himself.

But he was peculiar, and he might very well be reasoned out of his peculiarity. Before her reasoning went her emotioning: She had always supposed that the man who won her would have done something to win her; she did not know what, but something. George Gearson had simply asked her for her love, on the way home from a concert, and she gave her love to him, without, as it were, thinking. But now, it flashed upon her, if he could do something worthy to have won her–be a hero, her hero–it would be even better than if he had done it before asking her; it would be grander.


Besides, she had believed in the war from the beginning. And I call any war glorious that is for the liberation of people who have been struggling for years against the cruelest oppression. Don’t you think so, too? Is it glorious to break the peace of the world? It was no peace at all, with that crime and shame at our very gates.

She must sacrifice anything to the high ideal she had for him, and after a good deal of rapid argument she ended with the climax: Since the war has come, all that is gone. There are no two sides any more. There is nothing now but our country. He sat with his eyes closed and his head leant back against the veranda, and he remarked, with a vague smile, as if musing aloud, “Our country–right or wrong.

I call it a sacred war. A war for liberty and humanity, if ever there was one. And I know you will see it just as I do, yet. He took half the lemonade at a gulp, and he answered as he set the glass down: When I differ from you I ought to doubt myself.

American Literature: Themes and Ideas: William Dean Howells “Editha”

A generous sob rose in Editha’s throat for the humility howellss a man, so very nearly perfect, who was willing to put himself below her. Besides, she felt, more subliminally, that he was never so near slipping through her fingers as when he took that meek way. Only, for once I happen to be right.

He editua his hand and drank the rest of his lemonade, and she added, “Have mine, too,” but he shook his head in answering, “I’ve no business to think so, unless I act so, too. Her heart stopped a beat before it pulsed on with leaps that she felt in her neck. She had noticed that strange thing in men: She knew what was in his mind, but she pretended not, and she said, “Oh, I am not sure,” and then faltered.

He went on as if to himself, without apparently heeding her: He went on again. He seemed to muse away from her as before. I suppose that at the bottom of his heart every man would like at times to have his courage tested, to see how he howslls act. Still, that’s what it comes to, unless you’re swept away by ambition or driven by conviction. I haven’t the conviction or the ambition, and the other thing is what it comes to with me.

I ought to have been a preacher, after all; then Edktha couldn’t have asked it of myself, as I must, now I’m a lawyer. Edithx you believe it’s a holy war, Howflls But you wish me to believe so, too? She hardly knew whether he was mocking or not, in the ironical way he always eidtha with her plainer mind.

But the only thing was howwlls be outspoken with him. If I’ve tried to talk you into anything, I take it all back. I know how sincere you are, and how– I wish I had your undoubting spirit! I’ll think it over; I’d like to believe as you do.

But I don’t, now; I don’t, indeed. It isn’t this war alone; though this seems peculiarly wanton and needless; but it’s every war–so stupid; it makes me sick. Why shouldn’t this gowells have been settled reasonably? Sometimes it seems as if God had put this world into men’s keeping to work it as they pleased. I’ll try to believe in your pocket Providence,” he said, and then he rose to go.

He went away without kissing her, and she felt it a suspension ediths their engagement. It all interested her intensely; she was undergoing a tremendous experience, and she was being equal to it. While she stood looking after him, her mother came out through one of the long windows onto the veranda, with a catlike softness and vagueness. Her mother said, “Oh, my! Then she closed whatever tacit passage of thought there had been in her mind with the spoken words: Her mother rocked herself again for an interval of cogitation.

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What she arrived at in speech was: The girl said, as she passed indoors through the same window her mother had come out by: In her room, she put together all her letters ediths gifts from Gearson, down to the withered petals of the first flower he had offered, with that timidity of his veiled in that irony of his.

In the heart of the packet she enshrined her engagement ring which she had restored to the pretty box he had brought it her in. Then she sat down, if not calmly yet strongly, and wrote:. But I think we had better emphasize your meaning that if we cannot be one in everything we had better be one in nothing.

So I am sending these things for your keeping till you have made up your mind. But the man I marry must love his country first of all, and be able to howdlls to me. I evitha never expected to say so much, but it has come upon me that I must say the utmost.

She thought she had worded her letter well, worded it in a way that could not be bettered; all had been implied and nothing expressed. She had it ready to send with the packet she had tied with red, white, and blue ribbon, when it occurred to her that she was not eeitha to him, that she was not giving him a fair chance. He had said he would go and think it over, and she was not waiting. She howel,s pushing, threatening, compelling. That was not a woman’s part.

She must leave him free, free, free. She could not accept for her country or herself a forced sacrifice.

In writing her letter she had satisfied the impulse from which it sprang; she could well afford to wait till he had thought it over. She put the packet and the letter by, and rested serene in the consciousness of having done what was laid upon her by her love itself to do, and yet used patience, mercy, justice.

She had her reward. Edithq did not come to tea, but she had given him till morning, when, late at night there came up from the village the sound of a fife and drum, with a tumult of voices, in shouting, singing, and laughing.

The noise drew nearer and nearer; it reached the street end of howe,ls avenue; there it silenced itself, and one voice, the voice she knew best, rose over the silence. It fell; the air was filled with cheers; the fife and drum struck up, with the shouting, singing, and laughing again, but now retreating; and a single figure came hurrying up the avenue.

She ran down to meet her lover and clung to him. He was very gay, and he put his arm round her with a boisterous laugh. Yes, we’ve had a meeting at the town-hall, and everybody has volunteered; and they selected me for captain, and I’m going to the war, the big war, the glorious war, the holy war ordained by the pocket Providence that blesses butchery. Come along; let’s tell the whole family about it.

Call them from their downy beds, father, mother, Aunt Hitty, and all the folks!