A New England Nun


Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

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Themes and Colors
Gender Roles for Women  Theme Icon
Honor, Decorum, and Restraint  Theme Icon
Restriction, Freedom, and Art Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A New England Nun, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Gender Roles for Women

Louisa Ellis has an unusual life for a woman of her time: she lives alone. She treasures this solitary life, delighting in nature, needlepoint, cleaning her apartment, and making herself tea in fancy china cups. But when her fiancé, Joe Dagget, returns from working for 14 years in Australia, this life comes under threat: everyone expects that Louisa will give up her home to move in with Joe once she marries him, but she…

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Honor, Decorum, and Restraint

“A New England Nun” depicts people struggling with a conflict between happiness and virtue. Louisa Ellis, the story’s protagonist, is engaged to be married to Joe Dagget—but neither one of them really wants to be married to each other. They’ve been living apart for 14 years while Joe worked in Australia, and during that time, Louisa became accustomed to living alone and Joe fell in love with another woman. Nonetheless, Joe and Louisa…

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Restriction, Freedom, and Art

Louisa Ellis, the story’s protagonist, relishes her solitude, which she’s gotten by happenstance after her brother and mother died and her fiancé, Joe Dagget, moved to Australia to seek his fortune. When Joe returns, now prepared to marry Louisa, she is disturbed by the idea of changing her everyday habits and coexisting with a husband and his family. Louisa becomes increasingly worried about the changes that marrying will bring to her life, such…

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