A detailed analysis of “Editha,” Howells’s most anthologized story, including the following: its themes (war, egotism, and romanticism vs. realism), structure, characters, imagery, symbolism, and symbolic names of the characters.
Four of the six pages of the student handout examine what is typically done in the three-part structure of a short story: Beginning (introduction of the characters, the setting, and the problem of the story); the middle (further development of the characters and the problem, which builds to the story’s climax); and the end or denouement (the aftermath of the climax which presents the three Rs: Resolution, Reversal, and Recognition).
This examination of Howells’s use of this tripartite structure in “Editha” may provide a guide which your students can use in analyzing other stories on their own. Not as part of the student handout, I have included some notes on the background of the story and provided annotations on its difficult vocabulary, allusions, and additional commentary on the themes and characters. You can select which (if any) of these “extras” you may wish to incorporate into your class’s discussion of “Editha.”
My handout, which has blanks that your students can fill in, is suitable for a homework assignment or as an in-class activity. An answer key is provided on separate pages at the end of the handout.
Prepared by Professor William Tarvin, Ph.D., who has published many articles on literature in scholarly journals.