Astronomer's Wife Literary Elements

Astronomer's Wife Literary Elements



Setting and Context

Mr and Mrs Ames' Villa

Narrator and Point of View

3rd Person Limited Narration

Tone and Mood

Wistful, longing, philosophical.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist is Mrs. Ames. There is no established antagonist.

Major Conflict

The dysfunction within Mr. and Mrs. Ames marriage and their lack of communication.


The plumber offers to lead Mrs. Ames underground, through the sewers that run beneath her and her husband's villa. She physically leaves her home and her responsibilities, and symbolically leaves behind a part of her old self.


The plumber tells Mrs. Ames that the sewage drains lead all the way through the villa to the edge of the forest, mirroring Mrs. Ames' desire to escape her marriage and foreshadowing her eventual success in doing so.


Before Mrs. Ames follows the plumber underground, she vaguely tells the maid that she will return, not acknowledging the permanence of her actions.




Nature, specifically water-related imagery is often utilized by Mrs. Ames as she details her stress and anguish while her marriage falls apart. Her husband is compared to "a new arching wave". Later, she likens her sorrow to the sensation of "clinging to floating debris on the tide."

Poetic, romantic descriptions are used to describe the character's features. Mrs. Ames' hair is blond, "dimmed halo." The plumber's eyes are "fringed with the whitest lash." Though the content matter is simplistic in nature, the prose style flows with eloquent detail.





Metonymy and Synecdoche



Mrs. Ames requests that her maid make her coffee: "She fetched up her gentle voice and sent it warily down the stairs for coffee."

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