A White Heron Thesis

A White Heron Thesis-76
Sylvia, the protagonist, becomes a traditional hero who makes a quest after a much desired object.

When Sarah Orne Jewett wrote these words to a friend, the Atlantic Monthly had rejected her story "A White Heron," and she was puzzled about its artistic merit.

But after it appeared in a collection of her stories in 1886, it immediately attracted compliments from friends and fellow writers.

It is "amazed" that "this determined spark of human spirit" is climbing it.

It loves "the brave, beating heart of the solitary grey-eyed child," steadies its limbs for her, and frowns away the winds (17).

Her "threshold" is a white oak that just reaches the lowest branches of the pine tree: "When she made the dangerous pass from one tree to the other, the great enterprise would really begin" (16).

Once on the pine tree she experiences the most difficult trials of her journey.Campbell draws the hero's basic story from his survey of myths, tales, rituals, and art from all over the world. In the first, the "Departure," the hero receives a "call to adventure." By a seeming accident, someone or something invites the hero into "an unsuspected world," into "a relationship with forces that are not rightly understood" (51).Often he receives supernatural aid from a "protective figure" who helps him in his adventures.The trip back to his homeland can be arduous, but once back he has a choice and a problem.He can withhold or bestow his boon, whatever he wants (193).And for modern readers its implications are even broader.The hero archetype has been ably treated by a number of writers, but the definitive treatment is probably Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).Her tale begins when the unexpected breaks into her life - a young hunter whistles and emerges from the shadows into her pathway.She is frightened but leads him home where her grandmother promises him a night's lodging."But what shall I do with my `White Heron' now she is written?She isn't a very good magazine story, but I love her, and mean to keep her for the beginning of my next book" (Fields 83).


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