My Mortal Enemy Literary Elements

My Mortal Enemy Literary Elements


A short story, novella

Setting and Context

Parthia, Illinois, USA

Narrator and Point of View

First person narration, Nellie is a narrator

Tone and Mood

The tone of the story is romantic, sometimes sarcastic and, in the end of the story, depressive. The reader sympathizes with Myra, who is ill and with Oswald, who can’t help his wife.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist of the story is Myra Henshawe, the outgoing woman, who run away with her future husband. The antagonist is Oswald Henshawe, Myra’s husband, whom she calls her “mortal enemy” and regrets marrying him.

Major Conflict

The major conflict stands in contradiction between our life choice and inability to turn back time and change it.


The limax happens when Myra goes away and Oswald with Nellie found her dead with her head turned to the sitting sun, and Nellie says that she had lived to see the dawn.


The fact that Myra run away with her future husband and refused her uncle’s money foreshadows that one day she will feel regrets if her husband is unable to provide her with all that she needs.


Youth is the time of huge mistakes, wrong choices and broken lives. Many people regret the decisions they’ve made when they were young, but it is too late to change anything and the only person who is to blame is yourself, not people who live you.


The story alludes to Bible, some literary works and artists like Charles Perrault's Sleeping Beauty, William Shakespeare's King Lear, Richard II and King John, Heinrich Heine, and Walt Whitman.


Imagery is rather often used for appearances and life routine descriptions


The paradox of the story is that Myra calls her husband, the only person who loved her, who was ready to do everything for her and did it, her mortal enemy. She thinks it was a huge mistake to marry him, and blames not herself, but her husband, although it was her choice and her decision.


The story parallels to the problem of choice and responsibility for it, the problem of marriage and friendship.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

The author uses metonymy and synecdoche to underline the specific features of the character and to depict them with derogatory tone: “Violent natures like hers”, “the power to love”, “best days”.


The author uses personification to depict things that have symbolic meaning in the story: “unlucky amethysts” , “the sky leaned over the earth and kissed it and gave it absolution”, “money is a protection, a cloak”.

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