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Character Study Of Eliza Henry Essay, Research Paper

A Character Study of Eliza Henry

Eliza Henry is a talented, strong-willed woman who will not take charge of her own life. In other words, she is a mass of contradictions. On one hand she yearns to leave her prison of a marriage for a more exciting and fulfilling life. On the other, Eliza realizes the limitations pressed upon women and does the best she can to make her situation better. Eliza realizes her marriage is in trouble, there is no passion between her and her husband, but she insists on staying because she believes that is what women in her position are supposed to do. ?You made your bed, now lie in it? seems to be her motto. Eliza throws herself into her housework and her gardening. In fact, she cares for her Chrysanthemums as if they were her own children. There will always be a conflict in her mind as to what she could do with her life and what she has to do as a married woman.

On the outside Eliza seems to be a cheerful, lively person; but she suffers tremendously internally. She devotes her time and energy to her home and gardens, she has a ?hard swept looking house with hard polished windows and a clean mud mat on the front steps?. All of Eliza?s excess energy is devoted to her flower garden. From lack of affection, Eliza and her husband Henry, do not have children In Eliza?s garden she is the mother to all the flowers. She treats each Chrysanthemum sprout as if it were one of her children, caring and cradling each one with loving care and commenting to anyone who will listen that her flowers have the biggest blooms around, and each year they get just a little bit bigger. ?She makes sure ?no aphids, no sowbugs or snails or cutworms? are there?these pests represent natural harm to the flowers, and , just as any good mother, she removes them before they can harm her children? ?Symbolism in ?The Chrysanthemums? http://wwwnhc.nhmccd.cc.tx.us/public/

clh/engl/composit/critanal/C953.html. As much as Eliza loves to tend to her Chrysanthemums, she would love to be free of her present life and has dared to think of a new one. Her fear in the unknown and her knowledge of the role of women in her world are the only things that keep her from leaving her husband. Eliza has a strong body and even stronger will. With all the forces pulling her off of that small foot hills farm, she is able not only stay, but to carve out an existence beyond the boring farmers wife she has been saddled with.

Eliza realizes she does not have much of a marriage anymore, she even finds herself physically attracted to an old, dirty tinker that shows up at her farm looking for work. ?She is attracted to the tinker because he represents a world of adventure and freedom? T, G. ?John Steinbeck?s ?The Chrysanthemums?: A Woman Bound by Society? http://wwwnhc.nhmccd.cc.tx.us/public

/clh/engl/composit/critanal/22anal.htm. Still she hopes that some how she can turn her relationship with Henry around. Any opportunity she sees to get dressed up and make herself beautiful, she seizes. Henry, of course, has no knowledge of Eliza?s unhappiness and refuses to try to learn to appreciate her mind or body. During her house work and perhaps her gardening, Eliza weighs her options carefully and decides that because no one would ever take her seriously if she tried to leave to make a life for herself out on the road; she decides to stay. Probably thinking as society taught most women to think during that period, any husband is usually better than no husband. Outside pressures and the impact her leaving would have on her husband made Eliza?s decision for her and she stays. Her only outlets are her flower garden and her image of what her life could have been.

Eliza?s interaction with the tinker forces all her fears and disappointments up front. She is then forced to deal with and reconcile them. After giving the tinker some of the Chrysanthemum sprouts, she feels as though she has given her children a chance to do something she will never be able to do which is to leave and live a new, exciting life. Like most parents who live vicariously through their children, this seemed to comfort Eliza. It then occurred to her that maybe should could revitalize her own relationship Henry. During her bath to get ready for dinner with Henry, she ?scrubbed herself?legs and thighs, loins and chest and arms, until her skin was scratched and red?. To Eliza, she felt this way of washing would cleanse her mind of the improper thoughts she had for the tinker as well as wash off old dreams and ideals of what her life should have been like, she was ready to look to the future. ?When she dresses, she puts on her best underwear and applies makeup to her face. By doing these purely feminine things, she hopes to accentuate her role as a woman? T, G. ?John Steinbeck?s ?The Chrysanthemums?: A Woman Bound by Society? http://wwwnhc.nhmccd.cc.tx.us/public

/clh/engl/composit/critanal/22anal.htm. Just as Eliza begins to think she may still have a happy life she is thrown back into her harsh reality when she sees some thing she loves and cares for more than any other in the world get thrown out as if it were nothing more than yesterday?s coffee. This one event destroys her and erases forever any hope she had of renewing her marriage.

In conclusion, Eliza Henry is a woman who knows exactly what she wants out of life, but is too afraid to go for because of societal pressures and her own internal demons. She is forced into a life of menial, but necessary house work, and has all her hopes and dreams stomped upon by a stranger she trusted too easily. She has strong will and determination, but has relegated those skills to gardening and orchard straightening. Henry will never know the woman he married, or everything she has involuntarily given up to stay with him, nor does he care. Eliza will never know what she could have carved out of her life and will always hate herself and her husband for that.

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